In the newly liberated town of Douentza in Mali, life is slowly returning to normal, but provisions remain scarce and suspicions linger. Watch FRANCE24’s report on the uneasy peace in this isolated town.
One month into the French-led offensive in Mali, the newly liberated town of Douentza is inching its way back to normality.
The markets once again bustle with life and music, and even cigarettes are once again on offer at the town’s vibrant stalls. Music is of great social and political import in the desert state of Mali; yet it was contraband under the rigid sharia law implemented by the Islamist militants who controlled this town for ten long months, crushing a key aspect of Malian life and culture.
Despite the improvements, tensions remain. Rigid military checkpoints remain in place, food is scarce, and people remain deeply suspicious of those they suspect of having worked with the Islamist rebels.
Once held as a model of democracy, Mali was thrown into turmoil after a March 2012 military coup in the south brought down the democratically-elected government. The power vacuum allowed Tuareg rebels allied with Islamist militants to seize the northern half of the country – a vast region roughly the size of France. After months of an uneasy power-sharing arrangement, the Tuaregs' political movement was pushed out and the north fell under Islamist control. Mali’s government appealed to France for help, with French forces being rapidly deployed as President François Hollande pledged that Paris was “ready” to back Mali in its fight to recapture the north.
In the weeks since France sent in the first fighter jets and attack helicopters in coordination with Malian forces, the rebels have largely been driven into remote mountains in the far northeast.
Date created : 2013-02-10