Mali needs help to avoid becoming 'African Afghanistan': NGO
4/19/2012 10:00:01 PM -
DAKAR (AFP) - An African rights body warned Thursday that if Mali did not receive assistance to win back its north from Islamists and other rebels, it could become the "Afghanistan of Africa".
The Dakar-based African Assembly for the Defence of Human Rights warned of the threat of Islamist insurgents such as the Taliban which plagues Afghanistan, after extremists seized key towns and installed sharia law in north Mali.
It also compared Mali's crisis, in which Tuareg desert nomads have declared an independent state in the north while a transition government is taking over from a junta in the south, to partitioned, failed state Somalia.
"There is a serious threat of Somalisation and the creation of the Afghanistan of Africa," the body's president Alioune Tine warned in a report after a visit to Mali.
"The collapse of the state and democracy in Mali were spectacular in their speed and magnitude."
On March 22 a group of low-ranking soldiers ousted the democratically-elected government saying it was incompetent to deal with a resurging Tuareg rebellion in the north which had overwhelmed the army.
However the power vacuum and chaos allowed the Tuareg as well as hardline Islamists fighting alongside Al-Qaeda elements to seize the key cities in the vast north, an area larger than France, in three days of lightning strikes.
A new interim government faces the headache of restoring order and piecing the nation back together.
The NGO asked the international community to "guarantee the territorial integrity and national unity" in Mali.
It called for the UN Security Council to consider the crisis to "avoid the destabilisation of the region by dark, terrorist powers".