Nouakchott, 1 Jumadil Awwal 1434/12 March 2013 (MINA) – Dozens of Malian Arabs and Tuaregs protested Monday in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott during a visit by Mali’s president, calling for an end to rights abuses by soldiers in their homeland. report, the crowd gathered outside the presidential palace to chant slogans decrying an alleged ethnic cleansing campaign and demanding to know the whereabouts of their “disappeared” as Dioncounda Traore wrapped up a 24-hour visit, according to report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

      A spokesman for the demonstrators denounced the “impunity and continued presence of lawless militias that have been launched against the people” in Azawad, the name Tuaregs give to their northern Mali heartland.

       “Dioncounda (Traore) should know that we are human beings who suffer and who refuse to be murdered in cold blood,” protester Ahmed Ould Sidi wailed as she welled up with tears.

        French and Chadian forces are hunting Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in northern Mali following a French-led intervention that drove the militants from cities in the region they had seized last year.

        Traore told reporters ahead of his departure that Mali was determined to crack down on abuses which, according to several witnesses, have been a feature of military operations to recover the north.

       “In a war situation like Mali there may be abuses here and there,” he said.

        “But what is certain is that the government of Mali and myself are determined to ensure firstly that we minimise these abuses and then that anyone — civilian or military — who is found guilty of these crimes can answer for them before the courts.” (T/P09/E1).

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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