Monday, February 4, 2013

Hostages kidnapped in Arlit are probably in northern Mali

Hostages kidnapped in Arlit are probably in northern Mali

The President of the Republic of Niger, democratically elected April 7, 2011, was an ardent supporter of intervention in northern Mali. Some 600 Nigerian soldiers are already involved in international mission support in Mali (Misma). Faced in the past of Tuareg rebellions, border of Mali, victim repeatedly AQIM groups close to the Niger crisis Mali considers it a problem of internal security. Questioned in connection with the issuance of TV5 International, Saturday, Feb. 2, Niamey, in partnership with RFI and Le Monde, Mahamadou Issoufou called the medium term, the organization of democratic elections in the north of Mali.

French intervention in northern Mali was necessary and legitimate?

Absolutely. If France had not intervened after the attack on Konna jihadists, they would be in Bamako. The Malian government would become a terrorist state, threatening neighboring countries including Niger. The intervention of France is legitimate and courageous. I hear some report a return of Françafrique. I disagree with this analysis. If Françafrique means the existence of these networks Africans and French operating at the expense of the peoples of Africa, then this procedure is not the Françafrique.

On the military level, Misma is she ready to take over the French forces? Do we not quickly put in place a framework for the UN?

I trust the Misma. The Nigerian contingent has long been ready and is currently in Gao. Other African countries are beginning to prepare for and implement. I note that Chad is already present.

The most important thing is that there is a force capable of securing northern Mali to create the conditions for the organization of free and democratic elections. I do not mind that there are peacekeepers.

You dismiss any prospect of independence of northern Mali, Tuareg claimed by the MNLA. Greater autonomy is a Solution?

The most important is to promote democratic values, to allow people to express themselves, regardless of ethnicity or community. Another way to involve the grassroots is decentralization. This is what we have implemented in Niger: our regions are headed by officials appointed by local populations. This may be a way to Mali on the political level.

What is important is to note that the Tuareg are not always represented by those who claim to represent. The MNLA is not representative of the Tuareg people in Mali. It is very small.

We had the impression that France was pushing for negotiations between the MNLA and power in Bamako. Is it an error of judgment on the part of Paris?

I do not think we can say that this is a mistake. The MNLA was armed, is primarily responsible for the outbreak of the crisis in Mali in January 2012. We can not ignore the MNLA but I repeat: it is not representative of the Tuareg community.

Jihadists in northern Mali claim to Islam. Is it just a façade ideological, very different from the traditional Islam practiced in the Sahel?

These jihadists are not Muslims. They are drug dealers and weapons. Islam is a religion that preaches moderation. That is why, in Niger, we say that going to war against these people is not going to war against Islam. It is to wage war against terrorists, extremists and drug traffickers.

Nevertheless, some form of radical Islam is not it progressing in your country?

This is a danger. It must be very vigilant. This is why we focus on another aspect of the fight against terrorism: development. If the solution is immediate military long term, based on the economic and social development of our countries. This is the field of poverty that are growing extremism.

In this context, the renegotiation of contracts that bind you to the French company Areva for the mining of uranium found in the north of Niger, is it a key issue?

Absolutely, uranium is a very important resource for Niger and unfortunately it does not relate to Nigerians what they are entitled to expect from its use. A number: the Niger uranium removed from this barely 100 million per year. It is only 5% of our budget. This is not acceptable. This is why we require a rebalancing of our partnership with Areva to make it win-win. This is the only way to be sustainable and we want it to be sustainable.

Do you have information about the hostages kidnapped in Arlit, Niger, in 2010?

According to the information we have, they are alive. They are probably in northern Mali, near the border with Algeria.

Do you confirm the presence of French special forces to strengthen the protection of sites of uranium in Niger?

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