Don't miss




Pope Francis calls on Kenyan leaders for transparency

Read more


Media purchasing amateur footage of Paris attacks causes controversy

Read more


The hunt for Paris attackers: What are the missing links? (part two)

Read more


The man who radically changed millions of children's lives

Read more


How did Spain recover from the 2004 terror attacks?

Read more


Film show: Terrorism on screen in France and beyond

Read more


After the Paris attacks: All behind the president?

Read more


How does the Islamic State group make its money?

Read more


'The Turkish missile crisis'

Read more


Ansar Dine: ‘We are determined to have peace’

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-12-21

With a plan for a military intervention in northern Mali already mapped out, a delegation from militant Islamist group Ansar Dine (currently occupying the region) met with a UN official in Burkina Faso.

For the first time since jihadists took control of northern Mali last spring, leaders from militant Islamist group Ansar Dine met with Said Djinnit, the UN’s representative for West Africa, in Burkina Faso. Ansar Dine, present in northern Mali alongside Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), strictly enforces Sharia law in the region, carrying out amputations, stonings, whippings and other forms of corporal punishment.

Since arriving in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, Ansar Dine has been trying to improve its image, declaring an end to terrorist tactics and stating its willingness to negotiate directly with Malian authorities in order to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. “We are calling Malians to the negotiating table,” Mohamed Ag Aharib, Ansar Dine’s spokesperson, told a FRANCE 24 reporter in Ouagadougou. “Both Malians and [militant Islamist] groups will have an opportunity to make their demands heard, but for the moment, the most important thing is to proceed toward dialogue.”

‘We are respectable people’

The delegation from Ansar Dine has indeed made several diplomatic overtures in Burkina Faso. “We are determined to have peace….so that people know we are not terrorists,” the spokesperson said. “We are respectable people, not monsters. Sharia law is what we want here, we have always applied it, and we ask that it no longer be demonised.”

But that is precisely the sticking point with Malian authorities, who, along with the rest of the international community, condemn Sharia law and the practices that go with it. On Wednesday, Ansar Dine seemed to strike a more conciliatory tone on the matter, acknowledging that Sharia law would perhaps not be enforced everywhere in Mali. “We will not pursue the application of Sharia on all of Malian territory, only in our region of Kidal,” Hamada Ag Bibi, one of the members of the delegation, told Agence France Presse.

“It shows Ansar Dine’s willingness to separate itself from other armed militant Islamist groups just as the possibility of a military intervention in the region is on the table,” assessed Virginie Herz, a specialist in international politics at FRANCE 24.

For the moment, Malian authorities are refusing to come to the negotiating table as long as Ansar Dine is talking about any kind of application of Sharia law anywhere in the country.

Following in the footsteps of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union on Tuesday approved a plan for military intervention in the region. According to the plan, 3,300 soldiers would be dispatched to reinforce the 5,000 Malian troops already in place.


Date created : 2012-11-14

  • MALI

    African leaders agree on troop deployment to Mali

    Read more


    West African leaders meet on military plan for Mali

    Read more

  • MALI

    Islamist Mali rebels Ansar Dine urge dialogue

    Read more