Archive for Mali
Algeria confirmed the death of its general consul in Mali, who was kidnapped by a militant group in the African country in April 2012. The Algerian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the general consul died of illness in Mali, while his deputy was executed by the militant group Tawhid and Jihad. The ministry also confirmed the release of two more diplomats who were kidnapped by the same militant movement in April 2012. The private Algerian TV Echorouk reported the release of the two diplomats in Mali. The TV added, however, that the fate of a third Algerian diplomat kidnapped by the same group remains uncertain. In April 2012, seven Algerian diplomats kidnapped from the Algerian consulate in Gao Region, northeastern Mali. The movement later released three diplomats, but it executed one more diplomat.
Diplomats are warning of growing Islamist violence against western targets in Libya as blowback from the war in Mali, following last week’sattack on the French embassy in Tripoli. The bomb blast that wrecked much of the embassy is seen as a reprisal by Libyan militants for the decision by Paris the day before to extend its military mission against fellow jihadists in Mali. The Guardian has learned that jihadist groups ejected from their Timbuktu stronghold have moved north, crossing the Sahara through Algeria and Niger to Libya, fuelling a growing Islamist insurgency. “There are established links between groups in both Mali and Libya – we know there are established routes,” said a western diplomat in Tripoli. “There is an anxiety among the political class here that Mali is blowing back on them.” That anxiety escalated last week after militants detonated a car bomb outside the French embassy, wounding two French guards and a Libyan student, the first such attack on a western target in the Libyan capital since the end of the 2011 Arab spring revolution.
French foreign ministry confirmed that it had appointed Gilles Huberson as the new ambassador to Mali amid a French military operation to help the African country oust Islamist rebels. Huberson, a foreign affairs advisor, will replace current envoy Christian Rouyer who has held the post since March 2011, according to the foreign ministry. Appointing Huberson as France’s top diplomat to Mali was within a framework of adjustment of some diplomatic positions in Africa, the foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said, adding that the ministry also proposed Jean Felix Paganon as ambassador to Senegalese authorities. Diplomatic sources in the West African nation said Rouyer had reportedly fell out with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. He was an outspoken advocate for the French military intervention in Mali and remained popular among local political and civil societies. France has more than 4,000 troops on the ground in Mali, 1,200 of whom are currently deployed in the northeast, cleaning up the rest after driving out most of the Islamist rebels from the area.
Canadian military special forces are in Mali protecting Canada’s embassy. The specially trained soldiers are not in the West African country to participate in any direct combat action, nor will they provide training to the Malian troops. However, the special forces personnel have been assigned to provide protection to Canada’s embassy in the capital city of Bamako and provide for the safety of Canadians in the country.
Brazil’s embassy in Mali, where the government forces and militants are engaged in clashes, will stay open, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tovar da Silva Nunes said. The state-run news agency Agencia Brasil quoted Nunes as saying that there have been no orders from the government to close the embassy, though several countries, including Japan, have temporarily closed their embassies in Mali due to the worsening security situation in the West African country.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry says that the East Asian country has planned to close its embassy in Mali amid conflict in the West African country. According to a statement released by the ministry on Wednesday, “Japan will temporarily close the embassy in Mali due to the worsening security in the country, including in the capital of Bamako. The staff will continue the operation in the embassy in France.” Earlier on January 20, Canada evacuated the majority of its staff and their families from its embassy in Mali for security reasons.
The federal government has evacuated most of its staff and their families from the embassy in Mali, and is urging any Canadians still in the country to get out now. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAIT) says all non-essential staff and all 29 dependents of the workers and diplomats there have been relocated from the mission in the capital of Bamako. The situation in Mali has been volatile for nearly a year, with Islamist radicals taking over northern parts of the country following a coup. Two thousand French troops are now stationed in the country, trying to help the government there dislodge the insurgents. Foreign Affairs warns that it now has a skeleton staff in Bamako, with limited ability to help any Canadians who have stubbornly remained in the country. The department says in addition to the political instability and military clashes, there is a threat of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the northern region.