Calm in Bamako

In the bustling markets of Bamako, women fry fish, from the River Niger. The smell is overwhelming, and the heat and humidity make it a haven for flies. The City is also a haven for cars, from taxi vans to expensive land cruisers, getting stuck in rush hours morning or evening traffic is the norm here. 

Turbulent Times

The people of this City have been through colonisation, periods of democracy, protests, drought, and of-course a number of coups.

The most recent, happened in March 2012, where military officers deposed President Toure, ahead of the April presidential elections. A month later Tuareg rebels seized control of northern Mali, and declared independence. Ask anyone about the fighting a few hundred kilometers north of the Capital and they will tell you, that now that the French are here they are safe.

Ansar Al Dine

However, France’s military might didn’t stop the armed group Ansar Al Dine capturing Diabaly, a garrison town north of the capital. Ansar al Din is a group of local Ifoghas Tuaregs, Berabiche Arabs and other local ethnic groups who want a strict interpretation of Islamic law implemented everywhere in Mali. The French were worried enough to evacuate all their citizens from Segou, just 80 kilometres from the rebel territory. Ansar Al Dine says it is open to negotiations, but hasn’t ruled out an attempt to capture Bamako.

How long will the French stay?  

France said it joined this conflict after a plea from the Malian Government. It has also consistently said it would provide aerial and logistical support for a military intervention, but insisted it would be led by African forces.  Now France has announced that it is doubling the number of troops, this may suggest that it is getting ready for a major land offensive.

The fear now – is what was supposed to be a short deployment, could turn into a bloody campaign.