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'The Malian administration has disappeared from Gao'

AFP

Jihadist groups were driven from the northern Malian city of Gao six weeks ago, but the civil servants have yet to come back. FRANCE 24 reports on the daily life in an administration-free town.

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Residents of Gao are waiting for state officials to come back, six weeks after French-led troops recaptured this northern Malian city from Islamist fighters.

"There is simply no administration here. The Malian administration, the one we have known from the independence to 2012, it has disappeared from Gao", local official Issa Taher told FRANCE 24.

Elected members of the local council said that a majority of the civil servants and state officials had yet to come back.

One of them told FRANCE 24 that he had risked his life to save Gao’s land registry when rebel groups entered Gao last year.

“I managed to save all of it, even the computer. The rebels were in the governor's office, 60 to 80 metres away from the Town Hall. I put my life in danger, because this is Gao's memory", said Yehia Abdoulaye.

Other residents save parts of Gao’s archives by hiding documents in private houses. Most official buildings were looted and partially destroyed in the fighting.

Local officials now face the daunting task of convincing local shopkeepers to resume paying taxes while small pockets of Islamist fighters are believed to be hiding out in the surroundings of Gao.

The city was rocked by a series of suicide attacks and other raids last month, stoking fears that jihadists are waiting for France to withdraw its troops before going on the offensive.

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