The last 24 hours have seen a string of events.
Yesterday, Yeah was interviewed by PRI The World (http://www.theworld.org/2012/03/mali-junta-constitution/) on his thoughts on how Mali should move forward after the coup. Take a listen:
The junta introduced the new constitution on National TV. They had disbanded a 20-year old constitution when they took power a week ago. The 69-article constitution includes many of the guarantees of the former law, including the guarantees of free speech, liberty of movement and freedom of thought. New measures include the creation of a military-led council headed by Sanogo. It says that the new head of state is simultaneously the head of the army, the head of the government and the head of the judiciary. The middle and final sections set out the role of the military committee now controlling the country, which calls itself the National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State. The new constitution says that the committee will be made up of 26 soldiers or police and 15 civilians. Those asked to serve on the committee will receive immunity and cannot be tried at a later time. This leads to concerns of some of the “old guards” (those that have embezzled money), could be asked to serve on the committee and never be tried for stealing from Mali. (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-03/D9TPJIJG0.htm) Also there was no talk of when a new election would be held in this constitution.
Also, this morning, there was a press conference to introduce the Alliance des Démocrates Patriotes pour la Sortie de la Crise (ADPS) or Democratic Patriots for the end of the Crisis. Yeah had organized 12 other political parties that hold 5 other presidential candidates into a unified front, which condemned the coup, and called for the restoration of democracy. The plan which was unveiled on National TV today, calls for an interim civilian government whose main duties will be to restore the constitutional democracy of Mali, a resolution of the Northern crisis and the organization of the elections. Also this body will work with international organizations to remove all sanctions against Mali. The body which will be composed of 30 members will have 7 members from the military, 18 members from the political parties and 5 from civil society. The plan takes into account the legitimate concerns of restoring democracy and addressing the core concerns of the rebellion. The hope is that Sanogo will keep good on his promise to restore democracy.Details of the proposition can be found in French at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/ADPSMali/doc/282460618498541/
It was interesting to watch the developments of several protests that were organized. There were clashes between protesters that supported the junta and those that are against the junta. Tires were burned and rocks thrown between the two sides. These protests in part show that the democratic will of the people is still alive and well. However there is the hope that these clashes will not get out of hand.
At one point, these protesters stormed into the airport and ran on the tarmac causing security concerns to the plane of Presidential leaders of ECOWAS, and preventing them from landing. ECOWAS leaders were on their way to meet the leaders of the military coup and discuss ways on which democracy could be restored. For the past week, this same group has condemned the coup and threatened Mali with economic sanctions and locking up the borders it shares thereby preventing the transfer of goods. To be honest, if this group of African leaders had not rushed in this situation hot headed and trying to strong arm a country, I feel they would have received a better reception. Its third grade playground tactics. No one likes the bully and in this case the Malian people were saying they did not appreciate the bullying and to back off. If these leaders had invested some time in studying the situation at hand and reaching out to these leaders to see how a diplomatic solution could be reached, such a situation might not have happened. The result is Mali has now had economic sanctions placed on her and all her neighbor’s borders will been locked down in 72 hours if power is not relinquished. So what does this mean for Mali if these sanctions do go through? In actuality, this could be very bad for the 15 million Malians. Mali imports almost all of its gas from neighboring Ivory Coast. In addition, all of its banks would be on lock down as the central government will not transfer money to any Malian commercial accounts making it impossible to withdraw money. Also Mali that imports much of its food will find food prices shoot up as demand goes up and the supply reduces food stores present within the country. The devastating thing is that this will cause a lot more harm on the individual level before it even makes an impact on the government in place. Sanctions don’t effect governments, they affect individuals. The next 72 hours will help spell Mali’s fate. The refugees that find themselves in already desperate situations down north will only be pushed into a further desperation as remaining food sources become inaccessible.
While the issues in the South play out, in the North, MNLA is making its own advances. Now the town of Kidal finds itself surrounded by MNLA. Kidal is an essential town and if lost would mean a huge defeat for the Malian army where confidence is already low. The situation is dire as MNLA is attacking from the north while fighters from an allied Islamist group, Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), were leading an offensive from the south. Once this town is taken, Gao and Tombouctou seem next on the agenda. Once MNLA has access to the Northern region, it will not be long before the area is turned into pre-9/11 Afghanistan.
Currently, Malian citizens do not feel that their government served them. They have felt helpless and marginalized by previous administrations and so now they find themselves turning to the junta that have removed the very government that has taken so much from them. The Malian people have been led by bad governance for so long. Suddenly, here is a leader that came in and overthrew a bad ruler. Not to romanticize it, but in the mind of some Malians, the junta are seen as Saviors and these Malians want them to remain in power to resolve the corruption and Northern issues that plague the country. From where I am, I feel like these young military soldiers did not mean the country harm and the coup was far from a planned event. Sanogo has started to grow into his role as the new President, but his inexperience shows. How can you not secure an airport when you know a delegation of Presidents is entering your airspace? How can MNLA continue their advance when the issues of the North were one of the very things that caused the coup? How can Sanogo allow the number of refugees to grow while he traverses the country visiting imams and individuals that strengthen his image as the caring leader?
Support the prompt return to democracy in Mali. Support our leaders as they attempt to work with current leaders to propose a long-term solution to the problem. The solution needs to come from within.