Mali: Partner of French Journalist Missing in Mali Fears Military Effort to Rescue Him

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Freelance journalist Olivier Dubois was kidnapped two months ago by members of the Group to Support Islam and Muslims, the most powerful jihadist alliance in the Sahel region of northern Africa. Speaking to RFI and France 24, the mother of his children, Déborah Al Hawi Al Masri, says she is frightened at the prospect of a military intervention and would prefer to see diplomatic negotiations for his release continue.

Olivier Dubois was working in the city of Gao in northern Mali when he was abducted in early April.

He has since appeared in a video, apparently released by the islamist Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), confirming that he is being held by members of this Al-Qaeda affiliate, and urging the Malian and French authorities "to do everything to secure his freedom".

The French government has confirmed that Olivier Dubois is missing, but has not confirmed the identity of his kidnappers.

The national anti-terrorist unit has opened a preliminary inquiry into a suspected kidnapping by an organised gang, linked to a terrorist organisation.

The French Foreign Affairs Minister, Jean Yves Le Drian, has said France is doing its utmost, "as always in this sort of case. We have frequently been successful, even if the results have not been immediate," the minister continued.

Confidence in French and Malian authorities

Olivier Dubois' partner, and mother of his children, Déborah Al Hawi Al Masri, says she has the support of the French and Malian authorities, and has confidence in both to organise his safe return.

Asked if she believes that an armed military operation might free him more rapidly, a visibly moved Al Masri replies that such an option leaves her "extremely frightened".

"I am in favour of diplomatic discussions," she told RFI. "A military effort is something that frightens me very much. We're talking about Olivier's life. For me, he's not just a journalist. He's the father of my children. He's the person that I love and I'm terrified at the prospect of a military intervention.

"I have great faith in both France and Mali. But if they were to ask my opinion, I would say they should keep talking. Because all I want is for Olivier to come back, unharmed, to me and his children. That's all I want."

Political instability not an issue

Déborah Al Hawi Al Masri says she does not think the current political instability in Bamako, where the government is being reorganised in the wake of a second coup d'état in nine months, will have any bearing on the safety of Olivier Dubois.

France has temporarily suspended military co-operation with the Malian authorities.

Al Masri bases her confidence on the solidity and historical depth of Franco-Malian relations. She says the energy and the interests of the two states will converge to ensure that Dubois is safely returned to his family.

"That's what I believe," she continues. "That's what helps me to keep going."

Enlèvement d'Olivier Dubois au Mali: "Une intervention militaire me fait peur", confie sa compagne (interview in French)

In the final moments of the interview, Déborah Al Hawi Al Masri address her partner directly, in the hope that he might hear the interview, or at least hear about it. She assures Olivier Dubois that the couple's children are well and that he is terribly missed.

She confirms that huge efforts are being made to ensure his release.

"We love you enormously, infinitely," she concludes. "And we're waiting for you to come back, patiently and confidently. We love you."

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