Youths raise their hands in a show of support for Laurent Gbagbo at a rally led by Gbagbo minister and youth leader Charles Ble Goude, in the Koumassi neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. While the United Nations and other world powers recognize rival Alassane Ouattara as the winner of November presidential elections, Gbagbo has refused to step down for more than a month after the presidential runoff vote. The 15-nation regional bloc ECOWAS has threatened to remove the incumbent leader if ongoing negotiations fail.
The French drove out Islamist rebels in northern Mali. But can France and its African allies translate those victories into regional stability and peace?
France said today that it hopes to withdraw its troops from Mali next month, but it's unclear what will fill the resulting power vacuum and continue the fight against jihadist forces.
France says it will withdraw from Mali once an African peacekeeping force is in place. To keep Islamists at bay, the US is considering increasing its military presence in the region. A better approach is to focus on fixing the governance issues that fuel radicalism to begin with.
French troops entered the once Islamist-occupied city of Kidal today without opposition. But dealing with Islamist guerrillas and placating secular Taureg rebels will likely prove more difficult.
International donors have pledged $455.53 million for an international campaign tackling Islamist militants in Mali.
Malian officials say militants have given up their 4x4 vehicles, making them vulnerable to French air operations. Reuters journalists north of Bamako saw French and Malian flags hung side by side and one national paper ran a headline today: 'Thank you France, thank you Francois Hollande.' Still, it is early days.
France committed its forces to a military intervention in Mali to stop the Islamists' advance toward Bamako. Today, they threatened payback.