Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Cameroon's Constitutional Court rejects last petition for re-run

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Music stars, French art and a dead cat's renaissance

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Khashoggi Affair: Evidence mounts against Saudi Crown Prince

Read more

#TECH 24

Next stop space: Japanese company constructing nanotube 'space lift'

Read more

#THE 51%

The Gender Divide: Record number of women running in U.S. midterms

Read more

REPORTERS

Reporters: Brexit, a sea of uncertainty for fishermen

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Fishing in France's Grau du Roi harbour, a family tradition

Read more

FOCUS

French education reforms under tight scrutiny

Read more

ENCORE!

FIAC 2018: Paris's one-stop shop for Contemporary Art collectors

Read more

Africa

Chadian troops redeploy to Tuareg stronghold of Kidal

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24 , in Kidal, Mali

Latest update : 2013-04-05

The battle against Islamists in the Ifoghas Mountains is over and Chadian troops are now being redeployed to the northern Malian town of Kidal, where Tuareg hopes for independence remain strong.

To reach the Chadian forces stationed in northern Mali, there is only one choice.

To move its troops, Chad uses a Soviet-era Antonov cargo plane, piloted by a Serbian crew that works around the clock. “When the commander asks us to fly, we fly,” says Sergueï, the plane’s navigator.

The town of Kidal is still not totally secure. It remains in the hands of the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, or MNLA, which is now a fragile ally of France.

The MNLA took control of Kidal, 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako, on March 30 last year as part of the Tuareg drive for the independence of northern Mali, a region known to them as Azawad.

And as the convoy makes it way through the town, the children shout, “Long live Azawad” -- a sign that the desire for independence remains strong.

“As far as Chadian forces are concerned, we have been warmly welcomed here,” Oumar Bikimo, the commander of Chadian forces in Mali, tells FRANCE 24. “Warmly welcomed, but not as warmly as our troops elsewhere in Mali ... some in Kidal view them more as occupiers than liberators.”

Double-cross

Fighting alongside their Islamist allies, the Tuaregs took Gao and the historic desert town of Timbuktu in the weeks following their takeover of Kidal. But the Islamists soon seized full control of the territories, undermining Tuareg hopes of independence.

French forces, now backed by African troops, launched operations to oust the Islamists on January 11. Kidal serves as a base for the French and Chadian troops that were fighting the remaining militants in the Ifoghas mountain range.

The MNLA has said it would oppose any move into Kidal by the Malian army, which the UN has accused of committing rights abuses against Mali’s Tuareg and Arab communities in its bid to rout the Islamists.

France, which has 4,000 troops in Mali, is eager to withdraw and transfer responsibility to a pan-African force, which would then give way to a UN peacekeeping mission.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has said that up to 11,200 peacekeepers might be needed for the mission, which would be backed by a military force to battle any remaining Islamist fighters.
 

 

Date created : 2013-04-05

  • MALI

    Zeid or Belmokhtar? Chad army's photo sparks debate

    Read more

  • MALI-INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

    Helping Malian rape victims break the silence

    Read more

  • MALI - EU

    Mali soldiers get their own EU military academy

    Read more

COMMENT(S)