Mali's new interim leader Dioncounda Traore, who was sworn in on Thursday, has pledged to fight Tuareg rebels and outlaws who have taken over the north of the country.
Dioncounda Traore, Mali's new interim leader, was sworn into office on Thursday, vowing to master the chaos his country is in after the military staged a coup and Tuareg rebels took over the north of the country.
Dioncounda Traore, who has been head of the country's parliament since 2007, will serve as Mali's president for 40 days following an agreement between West African regional mediators and the leader of the junta that seized power last month.
"We won't hesitate to wage a total, relentless war to regain our territorial integrity and also to kick out of our country all these invaders who bring despair and misery," Traore said, also saying he was determined "never to negotiate about the partition of Mali."
In the north of the country, secular and Islamist rebel factions are vying for control. The Tuareg rebels have unilaterally declared an independent state, which they refer to as "Azawad," while northern Islamists say they are looking to introduce sharia law across all of Mali. Among them are militants from al Qaeda in the Maghreb.
The UN has warned of a humanitarian crisis, citing reports of civilians being killed, robbed, raped and forced to flee. "Reports also suggest that tensions between different ethnic groups are being stirred up, increasing the risk of sectarian violence," The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Thursday.
"In addition it seems that unveiled women have allegedly received threats and intimidation, and there are allegations that non-Muslims in the northern part of the country may have been deliberately targeted and killed by extremist religious groups."
Last Friday, coup leaders signed an accord agreeing to return Mali to constitutional rule, but questions remain about what will happen after the 40-day transitional period.
The junta had launched the coup that toppled former president Amadou Toumani Toure because they believed that government was not effective in fighting a rebellion by Tuareg rebels that was rekindled in January.
ng/msh (AP, AFP)