GAO, Mali, March 29 (UPI) -- Malians are forced to go it alone because of the political vacuum that exists despite French liberation from Islamic militants, a local militia leader said.
Mali in January called in military support from former colonial power France. Control over northern Mali fell to Islamic militants, including al-Qaida, following an early 2012 coup.
French and Malian forces have since liberated key northern cities like Timbuktu and Gao.
However, local militia member Moussa Boureima Yoro told France 24 there's no formal political presence in Gao.
"How can they ask us to go and vote? For who? And what for? It's clear we represent nothing in Malian politics," he said. "So we, alone, need to make our own destiny and transform this town."
The French report notes Gao in February became the first city in Mali to experience a suicide bombing. Residents told the newspaper they haven't seen a politician from the capital since the French intervention.
French authorities visited an air station in Gao this month. U.N. and international officials have said Mali needs more than military support to recover from conflict.