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.
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!
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!