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French Ambassador Rouyer makes historic visit to Ouelessebougou

Ouelessebougou and the surrounding communities welcomed a very special guest to their commune on March 26th, 2013. The visit was the first of its kind by a dignitary of this magnitude in this region of Mali. Given the recent circumstances in which France has extended solidarity to Mali, Yeah, in his mayoral capacity, invited the Ambassador of France to Mali, Ambassador Christian Rouyer, to see Ouelessebougou and experience the many developments ongoing in the region. Ouelessebougou already shares a sister city relationship with Pontivy in France. Through it many great projects in the areas of water and education has become a reality for Ouelessebougou.

Ambassador Rouyer and the French delegation were received with great pomp as he and his delegation entered the city of Ouelessebougou. The air was thick with excitement as such an event has not seen for as long as many could remember. The people of Ouelessebougou and the surrounding villages turned out in droves to meet the French delegation.

Ambassador Rouyer in his speech was very appreciative to the people that came out to welcome him so warmly. In his speech he expressed gratitude to the people of Ouelessebougou and also their leader Yeah. He has been very appreciative of the leadership role that Yeah has played since last year’s coup. Regarding the situation in Mali, he said it was France’s obligation to help Mali. For during the Second World War, it was many Malians who paid the price of freedom with their life as they fought for France. Now it was France’s turn to help Mali combat terrorists. About governance in Mali, Ambassador Rouyer bluntly stressed that “Mali is not condemned to poverty, corruption and rebellion. It’s just a question of governance. It has all the capacity and potential to remain strong among the great nations of the world. In any case”, he added, “the majority of Malians aspire to a profound change. To do this, the Malian people must take their destiny in hand through a high turnout in elections to elect men and women to meet their aspirations.” This was amazing to hear as it was a reaffirmation of what Yeah has been saying all along. Mali’s many problems come not from the lack or inability of Malians, but rather from the leadership that has failed them.

Mayor Yeah Samaké then presented the Ambassador with a flag of Mali as a token of appreciation. This is the same flag that Yeah was presented with by Colonel Keba Sangare in Tombouctou last week. Colonel Sangare is a Red Beret and paratrooper commando and is the current commander over the 5th military region in the North. He had presented Yeah with the Malian flag as an appreciation for what Yeah has done for Mali. By giving the same flag to Ambassador Rouyer, Yeah was extending the military’s appreciation for the French forces now fighting on Mali’s behalf.

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After the speeches and an afternoon filled with cultural richness, Ambassador Rouyer and his delegation joined the dancing. Malians love music and love to dance. For Malians to see “white” people dancing is indeed unique, but also it warms their hearts, for to them it is an acceptance and embracing of the Malian culture. The visitors were not shy. They seemed to truly enjoy the Malian culture that is often hidden in the city life of Bamako. Many of these diplomats will not venture past the main cities because their duties usually keep them in these areas.

The evening ended on a high note as Yeah led the delegation to look at all the development projects and achievements Ouelessebougou enjoys today. Ouelessebougou enjoys the spot as one of the top 5 cities in terms of development and management. Many people in Ouelessebougou have not been as affected by the economic crisis in Mali as other villages and cities. This is apparent in the level of development projects present and the life style of the people of Ouelessebougou. As they toured the solar panel field, high school, the hospital and water tank, there was great, genuine, appreciation for how far Ouelessebougou has progressed in comparison to other areas.

The date that this took place is also a memorable date for Malians. March 26th marks the anniversary of the martyrs that lost their lives for democracy in Mali. On March 26th, 1991, after days of fighting, displeasure over the military dictator Moussa Traore’s government reached its peak. Many university students especially lost their lives as riots seized the streets of Bamako. I remember Yeah telling me, that back in those days, he was a student at ENSUP. He remembers going to join the movement against the dictator. However with the death toll mounting, his father came all the way to Bamako and pleaded with him not to join. Soon, the army lead by Lieutenant-colonel Amadou Toumani Touré (the same President who was overthrown last year), refused to fight the civilians and instead with a team of 18 other soldiers they arrested and overthrew President Moussa Traore. Malians have long celebrated those that gave their lives for the democracy movement. This year, this day holds more significance for it is a caution that those deaths should not continue to be in vain. That the democracy that they fought for should not be forgotten and that Mali must return to a government where the people are represented.

Ambassador Rouyer expressed his genuine gratitude for this memorable event. It comes at a time, when his tour of duty in Mali comes to an end. A Sarkozy appointee, he will return to France soon and he will be replaced by Gilles Huberson. He has been an outspoken advocate for the French military intervention and had been posted in Mali since 2011 and had cautioned about rebels in the North long before they took over.

This is a memorable event for Ouelessebougou as well. It comes at a time when Ouelessebougou is enjoying its own successes and growth. It is hoped this event will only bring more development opportunities to Ouelessebougou and the surrounding communities.

It is at times like this, that I pray that people will see the great work that Yeah does. Yeah doesn’t do it because he will personally gain. The successes of his people and his community are paramount to any political ambitions. However we realize that it is only through our political ambitions that we can spread the successes of Ouelessebougou to all of Mali.

I have read comments that try to downplay Yeah’s popularity. I would urge all these naysayers to actually venture past the walls of Bamako and gain a true perspective of the 80% population and what they say about Yeah Samaké. What Mali needs is a leader that is trustworthy and dependable. A leader that will guide Mali to greatness and Malians to a better standard of living. A leader that has actually done something for his community and given rather than taken away from Mali.

This all is possible. Two words: YEAH SAMAKE.

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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Mali Elections Announced!

Mali has received more than its fair share of news coverage this past year. While initially, it was for all the bad things happening in Mali, now there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. French and African forces have joined the Malian army to eliminate the rebel threat. While all previous rebel-held territories have been freed, the rebels have melted into the population and the surrounding desert, making it more tedious to find them. However, the forces are not taking this task lightly. Security must be restored fully so that these rebels cannot start up again once the foreign troops have left. The Islamist threat in Mali has been a wakeup call to the world. The reality is the world cannot afford to have a country at the mercy of the Islamists.  And we got into the hands of the Islamists, not because the people of Mali believe in this, but because the government failed them.  The hopes and dreams of the people have been completely drifted because of the lack of government support.  So we have to rebuild the institutions, we have to give the people of Mali a leader that believes in embracing all religions, embracing all of the democratic values, and making sure that development and the basic services are provided for the benefit of each and every citizen of Mali.

It will be essential that Mali’s military be rebuilt. The last 10 years has seen all foreign money intended for this purpose being used by the leaders to line their pockets. The weaponry possessed by the Malian army does not even compare with the weaponry a homeowner would have in the West.

So what’s next for Mali? While these forces tie up some last minute threats, the attention has now moved to what needs to happen next in Mali’s recovery plan. And that is the elections to choose the next President of Mali.

After almost a year of non-democratic rule, Malians will be given the chance on July 7th to elect their new leader. The way elections are run in Mali is in two parts. The first run off will be on July 7th. If no one party holds more than 50% of the vote, then the two top candidates will run off again on July 21st. The French are already asking the UN to provide election observers to ensure that the vote is fair and the leader will be democratically chosen.

As Mali edges closer to this date, we continue our mission to ensure that elections do happen. This past month has been hectic as Yeah has been flying coast to coast in the US to try and continue to raise awareness to the challenges Mali will face in the near future. More importantly, he is attempting to guide the debate so that key decision makers in the Western world and Mali will understand how Mali can overcome the many challenges it faces and will continue to face for a while.

Yeah had the opportunity to meet with leaders at UN about the intervention in Mali. Last week he was able to attend Congressional hearings about the situation in Mali and meet with leaders like Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, Ambassador Johnnie Carson who emphasized that the US “supports the territorial integrity of Mali.” This is important because the US has remained largely disengaged from operations in Mali, providing only C17s, despite the threat that AQIM could pose to the US in the future.

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Most people are so quick to point a finger at the Mali military for the present day issues. They are quick to state that all these issues started because of them. The issues of Mali have been present longer than the coup. While the military played a role that prolonged the issue, the time had come for the bubbling pot of discontention with Mali’s leaders to boil over. As Yeah advised: “The current crisis in Mali is not a military problem. It is a problem of ungoverned areas, porous borders, weak central government, weak institutions and poor governance, exacerbated by the lack of economic opportunities, tribal or ethnic division, the extremism, anarchy, and a good dose of corruption increasing poverty. If someone tries to tell you that the North is a separate issue and should be treated, isolation is considered too narrow a solution to accomplish what really needs to be done in the long term. The long-term stability, security and peace are the goals, not just a military victory over a group or organization. When you look at the problems listed above, it is clear that a platoon or battalion cannot solve this crisis. Certainly, they can address and support some of them, but first and foremost it is a question of legitimacy and governance.”

The #Mali Moment is now! If Malians wait longer to hold its leaders accountable, the time for change will pass. If Malians don’t elect someone who is honest and truly has done a lot for the country, then we will see the last 10 years of leadership replayed again. This is an opportunity to actually turn the page on the old political class and renew this class with new ideas.

Yeah is the man for the job. We believe that Mali needs the honest, innovative leadership that Yeah can offer. As Yeah has so often stated, “With exceptional skills, valuable experience and moral principles that I have acquired, I am prepared to make Mali a land of freedom, opportunity and prosperity. As a leader, I will promote the belief that it is in the spirit of entrepreneurship, local governance and citizenship that Mali will find his illustrious colonial prosperity.”

We cannot do this without your support. You may not be able to vote for Yeah. However, the resources you donate will help us fight for Mali to hold clean, effective elections.  Help us to share our message of hope and our aspirations for the people of Mali.

They deserve to see the day when they are free of the burdens of poverty and poor leadership. They deserve to see the day when their children are educated and not lose them due to poor healthcare. They deserve better paying jobs and a stable economy. But most of all they deserve a leader who can make all these things possible.

They deserve Yeah Samaké!

MALI WITH YEAH SAMAKE AT THE HELM

MALI WITH YEAH SAMAKE AT THE HELM

Find out how you can be part of this incredible journey at www.samake2013.com.

You can keep current on our journey on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marissa-Samake-Journey-in-Mali/263354780407524 Twitter @marissasamake and this blog!

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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