This past week has been a testament of how nothing should be taken for granted and how quickly things can change in a blink of an eye. This past week has seen the fall of a stable democracy, the removal of a President, the institution of a military government, pandemonium, a return to calm and restored stability. For me on a personal level, I have witnessed firsthand changes. For one, the goal that we have worked so hard to achieve for the last year has been pushed. April 29th was supposed to be Election Day in Mali, when the voice of the people would be heard. That has now been pushed and there is no date set when the elections will happen. It was comforting to see the outpouring of love we received from the four corners of the globe and we were touched by the kind words of faith and encouragement. So what does these events that crash landed mean for the fate of Mali and that of the Samake2012 campaign?
Mali is at a critical time in its history. While the coup is said and done, now is not the time to go back. For one, to contemplate the scenario, what would be achieved by restoring the power to Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT) that the EU, AU and the US have called for? To give back power to ATT would mean showing support for the irresponsible handling of the Northern war and the way that our troops have been treated. There is no doubt among the Malian people who ATT has handled the security situation in the North poorly. Nothing has been done to stop the atrocities happening in the Northern regions of Tombouctou, Kidal and Gao. In fact these regions have seen an increase in the illegal trafficking – including drugs, weapons, migrants, cigarettes and Western hostages. We could have stopped the remnants of Gaddafi’s army long before lives were lost. However, nothing was done to stop them from crossing our borders and bringing in firepower that has made them extremely hard to defeat. They joined a pre-existing Tuareg protest movement, the National Movement of Azawad (MNA), a group of young activists which denounced the regime’s management of northern Mali allegedly based on its alliances with corrupt local political elites and a racketeering arrangement with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). MNA leaders elaborated the political platform of what would become the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA). To give back power to ATT means to allow this terrible management of a crisis to go on. What do we do about the 175,000+ people who are displaced? What had ATT done to help them or make sure no additional harm came to them? What continues to happen that will help them? “Up to now aid agencies have not had great access to these areas… It’s hard to sell this crisis, it’s quite forgotten,” says Helen Caux, West Africa communications head at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Really? How can we allow an inhumane crisis like this to continue?
We now need to move forward. Do the leaders of the National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State have a solution? Patriotism and dissolution of a non functioning government only takes you so far. Do they have a way to resolve the issues in the North? How do they propose to restore the government and end corruption? These are questions for the political leaders as military leaders do not have the political know how or training to answer them. We need to form a unified front of leaders that can appeal to the military leaders and provide them with a proposal on how a government can be instituted temporarily until free and fair elections can be held. In addition, now is not the time for sanctions or aid to be withdrawn. A country whose GDP is so heavily dependent on foreign aid cannot withstand such a hit. And who does it hit most? Not Sanogo sitting comfortably at the top. No, it is the men and women that live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Let’s not make their life even more miserable than it already is. At this point in time, they are not worried about what policy the government passes next, all they see is the immediate harm in terms of feeding themselves and their families.
Mali at this time needs friends and not foes. They need the international community to work with the military leaders currently in power and encourage them to work with political leaders in Mali on how a peaceful transfer of power can be made. There is not a day that goes by where Sanogo does not reaffirm that power will be handed back. It can be seen one of two ways. Either, he is trying to convince the outside world or he is trying to convince himself. Either way, great strides have been made by the military rule to ensure the safety of our Malian brothers and sisters. The Malian way of life has for the most part been restored with the borders reopening and airports functional. In addition government buildings and banks are open. There are security measures in place at the banks which are controlled by the Central Bank of Africa so that huge withdrawals are not made. All in all, calm is restored in the capital. Now, it will be important for political leaders to work together with the military leaders and provide solutions to get out of the current situation with the least casualties.
Now more than ever, the campaign must go on. I could take my family and return to the safety and security of America. However, my heart is compelling me at this moment that my and Yeah’s efforts are needed here in Mali. I have the firm belief that things happen for a reason and they are a test to man as to how we can make the best of what life throws at us. It is at times like these true leaders will emerge that have only one duty and that is to serve our people. We must now focus on the situation at hand and decide what is best for Mali.
Please continue to support our campaign. I know you probably are saying, well why would we support something when we don’t even know when the elections will be. In a way I can understand that. However, this has never been about the goal of winning the elections. This campaign has been about an awakening of the hearts and minds of Mali to a new way of government which actually cares and furthers the wellbeing of their people. I implore you to think of it as not just an election that has been delayed; now we are in the fight to restore democracy. We are in this to bring relief to the 175K+ refugees stuck without recourse.
You know how we all say, well that is history. Well here is your chance to help make history and restore to Mali the stability and the voice of the people who are struggling to be heard.
Make your voice heard today at http://www.samake2012.com