The flags of France and Mali, as well as those of Chad and Niger, are draped all over the city. People are extremely happy; we can’t thank France enough. Because truly, since March 31 of last year, we have been living in hell.
But everything isn’t back to normal just yet. The army has introduced a curfew that starts at 8:30 every evening. During the curfew, we have to stay at home, including during prayer. The army believes that some Islamic extremists could still be hiding in or around Gao, which could be particularly dangerous at night.
What matters now is for everyone in Mali to get along. I don’t ever want to hear of Azawad again [“Azawad” is the name given to the region of northern Mali by the Tuareg rebel group MNLA, which initially worked with the Islamists to take control of it]. The MNLA’s desire for independence caused it to invite the [armed Islamist extremist groups] MUJAO and Ansar Dine to northern Mali in the hopes that they would help them. We saw what that led to.