Mali ex­tends state of emer­gency by 8 months

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

BAMAKO . Law­mak­ers in Mali agreed Satur­day to ex­tend a state of emer­gency across the coun­try by another eight months, of­fi­cials said, as fresh vi­o­lence flared in the restive north­east.

MPs unan­i­mously backed the ex­ten­sion — which has been re­newed sev­eral times since last year — dur­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary ses­sion of the Na­tional Assem­bly, a par­lia­men­tary source said. “I want to re­as­sure that the state of emer­gency con­trib­utes to the sta­bil­ity of the coun­try” and pre­serves se­cu­rity, in­te­rior min­is­ter Ab­doulaye Idrissa Maiga told law­mak­ers.

Hun­dreds of gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers marched through cen­tral Bamako on Satur­day af­ter­noon to sup­port Mali’s se­cu­rity forces and the peace process, ac­cord­ing to an AFP pho­tog­ra­pher.

Demon­stra­tors waved Malian flags, plac­ards and ban­ners read­ing: “No de­vel­op­ment with­out peace,” and “I love my coun­try, I’m tak­ing part.”

The state of emer­gency, which gives se­cu­rity ser­vices greater pow­ers and re­stricts pub­lic gath­er­ings, will last un­til March 29, 2017, pub­lic broad­caster ORTM said.

The vote came as re­newed vi­o­lence broke out near Ki­dal in the north­east, where lo­cal sources said former Tuareg rebels were bat­tling mem­bers of a pro­gov­ern­ment armed group for con­trol of the city.

Deadly clashes broke out be­tween the two groups last week, the first time they have bro­ken a cease­fire since last Septem­ber.

Mali de­clared a state of emer­gency in Novem­ber af­ter ji­hadists stormed the Radis­son Blu ho­tel in Bamako, killing 20 peo­ple, mostly for­eign­ers, in an at­tack claimed by Al-Qaeda’s re­gional branch.

The gov­ern­ment im­posed another for 10 days on July 21, af­ter at­tack­ers stormed an army base in cen­tral Nam­pala, leav­ing 17 sol­diers dead and 35 wounded.

Two groups — the Is­lamist or­gan­i­sa­tion An­sar Dine and a newly formed eth­nic group — claimed to have car­ried out the raid, which the gov­ern­ment de­scribed as a “co­or­di­nated ter­ror­ist at­tack”.

Se­cu­rity sources told AFP they doubted whether the Na­tional Al­liance for the Pro­tec­tion of Peul Iden­tity and Restora­tion of Jus­tice (ANSIPRJ) had the means to mount such an at­tack.

Spe­cial forces this week said they had caught a se­nior fig­ure from An­sar Dine’s cen­tral com­bat unit, who they be­lieve helped to co­or­di­nate the deadly as­sault. — AP

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