Expanded military force in Mali plotted

Updated 11 November 2012
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Expanded military force in Mali plotted

ABUJA: African nations on Friday plotted a military force to retake rebel-occupied northern Mali as ministers met on a strategy that included a possible expanded mission of 5,500 troops.
The proposal discussed by foreign and defense ministers from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States could see the bloc commit 3,200 troops and other countries a further 2,300, said a source familiar with the talks.
Representatives from South Africa, Mauritania, Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Chad would also be invited to participate in a regional summit on the military strategy set for today in the Nigerian capital Abuja, the source said.
“ECOWAS defense chiefs have proposed a change in the composition of the troops to be deployed,” the source from the bloc said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to provide details.
“They are recommending to the summit 5,500 troops as against the initial proposition of 3,200 by ECOWAS. The difference is expected to be contributed by non-ECOWAS states which have signified interest to contribute troops.”
The ministers’ meeting ended late Friday after adopting a report ahead of Sunday’s summit. A portion of the report seen by an AFP journalist stressed that talks were the preferred means to resolve the crisis, but warned “dialogue was not open-ended.”
It spoke of a “leading role” for Mali in military and diplomatic efforts as well as “the leadership role of ECOWAS in the deployment of an African-led international force”.
The leader of a Malian militia meanwhile said that local people were ready to rise up against the rebels.
“The local population is ready to go to war against these people because they’ve finally understood that they’re not dealing with terrorists,” Seydou Cisse, the leader of the Ganda-Iso self-protection militia in northern Mali, told AFP from Niger’s capital Niamey.
Cisse, whose militia was defeated by the militants when they seized control of the region, said he was in “advanced talks” with authorities in Niger and Mali for his troops to take part in a military intervention.
“We have 2,000 young men assembled in Mopti (central Mali) and ready to fight. The sons of the territory must liberate their area,” he said, calling war “inevitable”.
The military plan discussed at the meeting in Abuja on Friday would eventually be sent for approval at the UN Security Council, which on Oct. 12 set a 45-day timeframe for ECOWAS to come up with a blueprint for intervention. It would be delivered through the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.
At the same time, attempts at dialogue are ongoing to resolve the Mali crisis, which analysts have warned poses potential problems to other countries in West Africa at risk of violence from militants.
“The urgent need to halt the mafia and criminal practices of terrorist groups and the atrocities committed with impunity by the extremists requires a strong mobilization on behalf of Mali,” ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo said at the opening of Friday’s talks.
He said ECOWAS should pursue a dual approach of dialogue and military pressure allowing it to “stand by Mali... and help her regain her territorial integrity (and) dismantle terrorist networks.”


France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

Updated 25 May 2018
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France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

  • Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,”
  • French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected

PARIS: Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,” a disclosure that has rocked the country’s intelligence services.
Defense Minister Florence Parly, who oversees the country’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), said Friday that she was not in a position to identify the country which recruited the agents, who were discovered and indicted in December.
“Two French agents in our service and probably one of the spouses of these agents are accused of serious acts likely to be considered acts of treason, on suspicions of delivering information to a foreign power,” Parly told CNews television.
“I can’t say much else,” she added.
“France has partners but we live in a dangerous world, and unfortunately these types of things can happen.”
French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected.
Parly said the agents were “quite likely” still in service at the time but investigators were still determining how long they had been passing along intelligence.
She also declined to specify the nature of compromised information, nor to reveal if the two agents were working together.
A judicial source told AFP late Thursday that two of the three suspects are being prosecuted for “delivering to a foreign power information that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation” and “compromising the secrecy of national defense.”
“One of them has also been charged for direct incitement to the crime of treason,” the source added.
The third person — believed to be the wife — has been indicted for “concealment of treasonable crimes” and placed under judicial control, meaning they are subject to certain constraints pending trial, according to the same source.
The armed forces ministry said: “These acts of extreme gravity have been detected by this service, which has brought these facts to its knowledge to the Paris prosecutor.”