France tells citizens to leave Mali

Updated 12 January 2013
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France tells citizens to leave Mali

BAMAKO: France yesterday instructed its citizens to leave Mali following the launch of a government offensive against rebels in the north of the country.
The attack was aimed at stemming advances made by Al-Qaeda-linked radicals who this week triggered international alarm with a push south towards the capital, Bamako, a military officer told AFP.
“Our offensive has started,” the officer said on condition of anonymity. “The objective is to retake total control of the town of Konna and to proceed from there.”
He added that “military planes from friendly countries” were being used in the offensive while a Malian government official said the operation had the support of French and European armed forces.
“European military, including French, are present in Mali to repel any southward advance by rebels,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The offensive came a day after Mali’s government appealed to France, the former colonial power, and the United Nations for help in pushing back the rebels.
As well as capturing Konna, the rebel forces have moved about 1,200 militants to within 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of Mopti, a strategically important town on the frontier between rebel-held and government-held territories.
French President Francois Hollande responded to Mali’s appeal yesterday by saying Paris was ready to help, under the auspices of the UN.
The UN Security Council has already given its blessing for a 3,000-strong African force to be sent to Mali but it will not be ready to deploy before September at the earliest.
That has put pressure on France to act quickly and Hollande acknowledged that the situation had become critical.
“They are trying to deliver a fatal blow to the very existence of this country,” he said. “France, like its African partners and the whole of the international community, cannot accept this.
“I have decided that France will respond without delay and alongside our partners, to the request of the Malian authorities.”
He added: “We will do it strictly in the framework of UN Security Council resolutions and we are ready to stop the terrorist offensive if it continues.”
Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, will visit Paris on Wednesday for talks with Hollande.


Malaysians celebrate government decision to shun UN treaty

Updated 09 December 2018
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Malaysians celebrate government decision to shun UN treaty

  • Among members of the anti-ICERD rally crowd were former Prime Minister Najib Razak and United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) President Zahid Hamidi
  • Mahathir Muhamad-led administration abandoned the ratification of ICERD amid pressure from former ruling party UMNO and its ally, Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS)

KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of people, mostly clad in white, took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to thank the Malaysian government for not ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
Last month, the former ruling party, United Malays National Organization (UMNO), and its alliance, Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS), put pressure on the newly-minted Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, led by Mahathir Mohamad, to abandon the United Nations treaty.
“It has been a relatively peaceful event and no incidents have been reported,” Oh Ei Sun, principal adviser of the Pacific Research Center, told Arab News, adding that he was in Kuala Lumpur observing the rally, which was attended by mostly ethnic Malays.
He also said that many showed up at the rally out of fear, while “many Malays fear the ICERD ratification will erode their special rights and privileges.”
While Malaysian police estimates about 55,000 attended the rally, other media sources said as many as 100,000 people showed up. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak and UMNO President Zahid Hamidi also showed up for the event.
Despite winning the general elections in May, the PH government only secured 25 to 30 percent of the ethnic Malay votes.
The rise of globalization and the cost of living had impacted ethnic Malays who relied heavily on government subsidies and welfare, such as the cash-out scheme, instated by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
“Few policy decisions taken by the PH government thus far have instilled Malaysians with a sense of hope for the future,” Ahmed Kamal Nava, founder of social media data analytics company Politweet, told Arab News.
Many of the rally observers had even brought their families. The PAS had used volunteers to keep track of security and logistics and demonstrators were seen picking up their own rubbish.
Nava told Arab News that Twitter discussions on the issue were predominantly against the UN treaty.
“The pro-ICERD crowd within Pakatan was doing almost nothing to promote it,” he said. He criticized the PH government for not reaching out and promoting ICERD at the grass roots level.
“I think this is indicative of the demographic segment that the PAS appeals to since clearly, PAS supporters don’t have a strong presence on social media,” he said.
“Malays are going to be talking about ICERD again after this rally and they are going to come across more anti-ICERD propaganda because the government did not do a good job promoting the treaty and addressing the core issues that led to the anti-convention sentiment in the first place.”