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Election Day in MALI

Two years ago Yeah and I left the comforts and possibilities of America for Mali to pursue a different future for our family. A future that included helping improve the lives of 15.1 million people in one of the poorest countries in the world.

The journey has in no way been easy but at every step of the way, we have been blessed. We have blessed with family that supported our decision and guided us as we settled into a new, different life in Mali. We have been blessed with friends that have supported us emotionally and financially as we pursued an ambition to change the corrupt system and initiate change. It is your kind donations that have let us run a clean race untainted by corruption and stick on the stage with the corrupt, older giants of Malian politics. We have been blessed with new supporters each day both here and in America who have believed in our vision of a Mali that can break the chains of illiteracy and under- development and welcome a day when every Malian can have three meals a day, accessible, quality education, accessible low-cost healthcare, clean water and a job when they graduate.

Today, was an emotion filled day. Our day started as we cast our ballot in the city of Yeah’s birth. As we entered Ouélessébougou, we were touched to see the throngs of people clamoring to vote. The booths opened at 8 am and people were lining up long before that time. Many came to us, waving their left index finger proudly, stating the exact time they voted for Yeah.

The booths will close at 6 pm tonight. The manual counting and limited access to far regions will mean that most results will not be known until sometime tomorrow or day after.

We do not what tomorrow will bring. We do not know what the results will be. While we hope for the best, we know that we will continue to serve Mali in whatever capacity we can. Our goal is empowering Malians to better standards and a better life.

Our heart is filled with deep gratitude for all you have done to support us. We have been blessed by your friendship and have been touched by your investment in our campaign for Mali.

It is an investment that will never be forgotten.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Last Barrier to Elections removed

On June 18th, an important step was taken in the resolution of Mali’s 18 month long political and security crises.  Since the French assisted the Malian army in removing the terrorist threat of Al-Qaeda and MUJAO in Tombouctou and Gao, one region remained under rebel control. This region in the North East of Mali was Kidal.

Kidal has remained a sore point for many Malians and a dilemma for the international community.  Since France gave military assistance in January, Kidal has been occupied by the Malian Tuareg rebel group called the National Movement of Azawad (MNLA). Their demands were for a separate, autonomous region called AZAWAD.  Since January, they have installed their own people in administrative positions and not allowed any Malian/international forces in. The Tuaregs are a very small minority in Mali holding less than 10% of the population. For many years they have felt marginalized and felt like they were not treated fairly by the Malian government. France did not want to get involved in Kidal because in essence they would be killing Malians and this could backfire on them. They also prevented the Malian army from entering Kidal because of the potential problems that could come from Malians fighting Malians, but more importantly acts of terror against the people that had aggressed the Malian army just a year ago. While France was initially hailed as a hero for its help in January, most Malians regarded with suspicion and disgust that the French stopped the Malian army from entering Kidal. There was a split between Malians who said they would not vote without one of their regions Kidal being included.

maliMap

Last week, a tremendous step forward was made, when an agreement was signed between the MNLA and the Malian government in Burkina Faso.  While the agreement does not resolve the root issue of the problem,  it does allow decisions concerning the stability of the country to be made by a legitimate government rather than an interim government with limited powers. The main issue is that the Tuaregs feel marginalized and uncared for by their central government and so it will be essential for the new government to address this concern.

The next President will have to make it a priority to hold a national dialogue to determine how the issue can be resolved satisfactorily with all parties involved.  For a lasting stability and prosperity, the people of Mali ought to be inspired to a stronger commitment to democratic values and standard economic principles. Corruption must be stamped out to allow proper and equitable allocation of the resources and foster foreign direct investment for the creation of decent employment.

The agreement includes acceptance by MNLA that Mali will not be broken up. In addition, the requirement was made that the MNLA withdraw from Kidal and the Malian army and international forces be allowed to take up position within the region. This interim setup will permit the people of Kidal to participate in Malian presidential elections scheduled for July 28. The MNLA had also asked for amnesty for war crimes, but the government did not agree to this and asked that this be reviewed by a joint commission.

While this treaty is not a permanent solution, it does allow the country as a whole to move forward towards elections. It does allow all ethnic groups in Mali to participate in choosing the nation’s next leader. So in no way can groups claim that the elections were not fair due to Kidal not being involved.

Last month, Yeah had called on the government to step down if Kidal is not released before the election. So with this new development of an agreement reached, Yeah congratulated the government on reaching a settlement with the Tuareg group as a means to an end. The bigger goal of elections and a democratic country need to be achieved first before a long lasting solution with the Tuaregs can be established. It is in this tone, that Yeah extended well wishes. Now the country has a month left before the first round of elections on July 28th.

As we prepare here in Mali for July 28th, I send a special thank you to all our friends, family members and well wishers. We are blessed by your support, prayers and thankful for your kind words of encouragement. The dream we have is a Mali filled with opportunity and hope for all Malians. It is a dream that can become a reality with the right leadership. That leader is Yeah Samaké.

Today, I ask you share our story and website (http://www.samake2013.com) via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Email etc. with one friend or family member. Today, I ask you to share the story of hope we have for a Mali filled with opportunity for every Malian. Your voice is your vote for a new day in Mali. Thank you again for sharing this journey with us!

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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To Lead is to Serve

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On May 22nd, 2013, the Parti Pour L’Action Civique et Patriotique ( PACP) held its 1st congress. For this special occasion, more than 240 PACP delegates from the different regions of Mali came to Bamako to represent their individual sections.  The event was held at the CICB in Bamako, a meeting place for many big conventions and events.

This was a great opportunity for the various delegates who are themselves leaders in their own regions to reaffirm their support of their candidate and the party. This event was an essential one. It gave the party the chance to show and explain all the activities that PACP has been involved in since it became a party in 2011 as well as to confirm the goal of the party in achieving stability and growth in Mali.

As we walked through the doors of the CICB, we were surrounded by the youth. Their chant became the theme of the convention: UNIS NOUS GAGNONS TOUS, DIVISES NOUS PERDONS TOUS ( United we all win, Divided we all Lose). The youth support has been growing for the last 2 years and it reached a climax at the event. To see the youth volunteer their time to come support their candidate was heartwarming and encouraging. The youth make up the majority of the voting population and it is essential that we train tomorrow leaders today. We need to include these bright minds in tomorrow’s future plans for Mali. And they sure did make their voice heard as they chanted their support for Yeah Samake.

The conference started with a speech by Yeah. In it he talked about the changing dynamics in Mali. His focus was on PACP as the party of change, growth and development of Mali. Yeah spoke with great passion about all things that the party has accomplished since it was created. He highlighted the actions of the party leaders on the day the country fell to a coup. While all parties were running away from the coup leaders, Yeah was right there condemning the coup and urging Sanogo to return power back to the people. Yeah spoke about the trips he has made to many countries and the meetings with many individuals to help explain the Malian perspective on the crisis in Mali. So many times, countries get caught up the issues in Mali that they forget to include the Malian in the solution. Yeah has consistently tried and succeeded at getting the Malian perspective represented and expressed. The partnerships he has created over the last two years with different governments was evident by the presence of representatives from different embassies, including Burkina Faso, Senegal, Algeria and the US Embassy. Usually, embassies try not to get involved in the political parties, so it was heartening to see the support and respect signified by their presence.

After Yeah’s speech, the secretary general Aboubacar Sidiki Fomba spoke. He stated the facts of what PACP has done in the humanitarian and social arena. Namely the 15 schools that have been built in rural Mali under Yeah’s leadership, the multiple medical missions that continue to come each year, the scholarships Yeah has been able to get for Malian students going to America,  donation of medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and clinics through Bamako, donation of computers to the Ministry and various schools in the country, a donation of food worth about $50,000 to Malian refugees in Burkina and Mopti and a visit to the Army in Tombouctou a month ago to name a few . More recently PACP has been holding multiple health clinics in rural villages where they have been able to utilize the expertise of doctors within the party. Most Saturdays, these doctors will travel to distant villages to give free healthcare and also train fellow doctors.

This is what this party is all about. Yeah’s success today is linked to his ability to serve his countrymen and women. That is one thing I respect the most about Yeah. He is the kind of man who will go out of his way to help if he can. So for him to create a party that replicates and signifies that sense of service is essential and crucial in the process of developing Mali. The party, despite being in its infancy, is at a crucial time. In Mali today, it is very rare and almost impossible to find politicians that serve their people. Most are in it for personal agendas and gain rather than to improve the lives of the Malian people. From day one, Yeah has wanted to make Mali a model of change and success. From day one, the people’s needs have been the priority.

The congress continued with various members from key areas like Tombouctou making statements about the party’s activities in their separate areas. The guiding principles, statutes and rules were read and acknowledged by all leaders present.

The event ended with all delegations reaffirming Yeah Samaké as their candidate in the 2013 Presidential elections. Yeah was touched by their commitment and stated: “I pledge to you that I will spare no effort to carry the torch of the party, for the term that you just trust me.”

This congress was an essential one. It was a reaffirmation not only of the candidate but also of the delegates who vowed to continue to support Yeah and work on his behalf. Many of these delegates traveled from far away, some as far as a 15 hour drive. This speaks volumes about the commitment of the people that join PACP. When I talk with people, they always tell me that they could go join other better know parties. However the reason they have joined Yeah and PACP is because it has demonstrated that it is a party of action, not just talk. This is something so rare among today politicians in Mali. Let’s look at it. Mali has been independent for 52 years. Where is she today? She is the second poorest nation in the world and in the top 5 worse educated countries in the world. Look at the healthcare system. There is 1 doctor to 20000 people in the rural areas that form 80% of Mali’s population. The education system has been riddled with strikes both on the teachers side and the students as well. Even the electricity has been as undependable as Mali’s current and past government leaders.

The time has come for Mali to celebrate the dawning of a new day. A day filled with hope for all Malians. This was an amazing conference. I feel blessed to have participated in it. I feel blessed to be part of this journey. But most of all, we feel blessed by your support that makes this journey possible.

Come join the Mali Moment. Visit us at http://www.samake2013.com (EN) or http://www.pacp-mali.com (FR). The ability to change a country’s destiny lies in our hands.

 

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Elections planned

Crazy "lovable" kids

Life in Mali seems to go on without much complaint. Keanen restarted school a week and half ago and thoroughly enjoys it. Even Carmen now is starting to ask when she will go to school, which is a change from a few months back, when the mere mention of the “s” word was enough to induce hysterics. The kids have settled into life in Mali or rather Mali has settled on them. They love the freedom of playing outside (despite the 115F weather) and the walks into the market to buy popsicles. They eat the food with no complaint and honestly seem to be enjoying the people they interact with on a daily basis. That is not to say they don’t miss Utah or the friends they left a year ago. They still talk about them and how they would like to go back and see them. And then the moment passes and they find themselves caught up in another activity or trip to the market. I think that I too have calmed down parent-wise. When I first came here, I worried about where they went and what they ate and how they did certain things. I have been able to trust the perspective what does not kill them will make them stronger. They are good kids, despite their healthy vocal cords and fighting, and I feel blessed to be able to spend time with them.

One of many meetings with community leaders

Yeah’s party PACP continues to remain politically active. Now more than ever given the political dilemma Mali finds itself in, it is essential to continue to spread the word about the party and what it stands for. Yesterday, party leaders Fomba and Kone did a leadership training so as to teach community leaders how to spread the word about PACP. By teaching community leaders, they in turn will spread the word and before you know it, there will be a domino effect.

On the political front things seem to be stabilizing. On April 27th, all the ECOWAS members met with the President of Mali and drew up the final installment agreement which decided on the elections and what to do in the North. A positive thing was that elections that were to happen today were decided would happen in 12 months. Two points of the agreement however caused much controversy in Mali today, namely:

  • “The Heads of State and Government decide to bring the transition in Mali over a period of 12 months, during which presidential elections should be held to choose a new President. The Summit also decided to extend the mandate of the transition bodies, including the Acting President, the Prime Minister and the Government over this period of 12 months to ensure, within the limits of the powers conferred on them by the Constitution, the continuity governance of the country.”
  • “The Heads of State and Government decide to take all necessary measures to help Mali in the restoration of its unity and territorial integrity. In this regard, the Heads of State and Government instruct the Commission to start with immediate effect, the deployment of the ECOWAS Standby accordance with the mandate approved.”

What the first point in effect is doing is ignoring the 40 day mandate of the constitution and stating that the interim President Diacounda would in essence serve for the coming 12 months. This has been the constant fear that Diacounda would try, like all other “old guard” politicians, to keep his position for longer. To be honest, there is little Malians have seen him do in the 30 years he held positions in the government. The last 10 days since his inauguration has seen him do even less. Other than his meeting with dignitaries, little has been done on his part (in my opinion) to bring the reunification of Mali. His actions belie someone who is unhurried by current circumstances. It is interesting that ECOWAS should ask that Diacounda remain in power for the term of 12 months. Interesting because Yeah had predicted this very thing would happen and a week ago had an article published that asked Diacounda, in the name of patriotism, to step aside after his remaining 20 days, to quick start the transition. (http://samake2012.com/updates/2012/04/le-coq-dioncounda-must-resign-in-the-name-of-patriotism-after-21-days-to-quick-start-the-transition-declared-yeah-samake-of-pacp/). Many political parties, including Yeah’s group ADPS quickly condemned the blatant disregard for the constitution. One cannot just decide to follow the parts of the constitution that are favorable and then change the parts that one doesn’t like. However, that is exactly what seems to be happening by allowing Diacounda to stay for more than his 40 days dictated by the constitution. Captain Sanogo, who led the March 21 coup, was quick to state in an address to the nation, how the junta would not allow such a violation of the April 6th framework agreement to happen. While it is a concern that the junta still seems to have a strong control over the national TV, it feels like the Malian people do have a protector that isn’t afraid to speak out and also let these power-hungry politicians know that Mali is the first priority and the policies that benefit Mali need to be followed.

The second point of day before yesterday’s agreement will allow foreign forces to conduct a military operation on Mali soil. This is a very sensitive issue. The entire problem has started in January with foreign rebels entering the Northern regions of Mali after the fall of Gaddafi, bringing weapons with them. By allowing ECOWAS to fight Mali’s fight with the rebels is continuing to feed the dependency that has made Mali and most African countries dependent on foreign aid. If a war must be fought, the charge has to be led by the Malian troops supported by the foreign forces in terms of weapons and logistics. These ECOWAS troops are not used to fighting in the desert conditions that are home to the rebels and such an operation could lead to the loss of more lives and more chaos.

Indeed it has been a couple of interesting days politically. But in some sense, you can almost see the young Malian politicians stand up and say to the “old guards”—No more. No more breaking the rules just to suit your power-hungry minds. No more putting self before country. No more sacrificing Mali’s sovereignty to please foreign interests. No more changing the constitution that was built on the 300 souls that perished in the previous coup. No more.

Mali is strong. The fight that is being fought is an essential one. Mali needs to find its own identity so that it may in turn hold its own among African nations. To have other nations build its democracy for it will only cause it to fail again.

Vive la démocratie! (Long Live Democracy), Vive le Mali! (Long Live Mali)

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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The “forgotten”

As the rain came down in buckets, it brought to end the heat wave of 120F that has hit Mali and all Malians very hard. April is the hottest month usually in Mali and this year, the heat took no breaks. I am blessed that during the hot months, I and my kids can retreat to our air-conditioned house. However, it only served to stress how most Malians cannot afford this basic necessity. To be honest, most part of the country remains without electricity and so even fans remain inaccessible.

Seeing the rain come down, made me think of the wonderful relief it would bring to the general Malian population. But then the thought hit me. What about all those 235,000 people who are now living in the North without any shelter or food?

As the world focuses its attentions on the “political” crisis in Mali, more and more, the humanitarian issues in the North continue to remain on the back burner. We could be going through the worse humanitarian crisis and it might be too late before anyone takes notice.

Refugee # as of April 5th

The refugee crisis began in January when Tuareg rebels started a fight for the liberation of the North. The ensuing drought only made matters worse as the nomadic northerners started traveling in search of food and other resources. When the coup hit in March, the crisis deepened and people found themselves fleeing to escape harsh conditions being imposed by the rebels in Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou. In a matter of days, 1500 people were fleeing a day versus the 200 fleeing before the crisis broke. The conditions are best described by the Doctors without Borders based at a camp in Mauritania that has been receiving some of the fleeing refugees. “As the number of refugees increases, so does the pressure for humanitarian response to improve the living conditions within the camp. There are currently 100 communal latrines for 57,000 refugees and just nine liters of water per person, per day. The conditions are below humanitarian standards, which call for 20 liters of water per person per day, and one latrine per 20 people”.

I cannot say this enough. We need to bring in some much needed relief for all Malians that are suffering in the North. Mali, being one of the poorest countries in the world, has been served another plate of misery. The conditions at these camps are deplorable and aid workers are doing the best that they can do. No child deserves to go hungry. No child deserves not to be able to go to school. No mother deserves to watch her child die or not be able to provide them with the basic necessities. No mother deserves to lose a baby because of lack of medical treatment. No family deserves to be separated.

The effects of war are damaging. However, let’s help turn some media attention on Mali’s forgotten people. Contact the media; ask them to cover this crisis. Facebook and tweet about this. Saving a human life is newsworthy! Contact your friends and family. Ask them if they can donate. $1 a day feeds 1 child for a day. If anything we can start by saving 1 child a day. If we band together we can help provide the much needed help for our people in the North.

We are collecting funds right now for the refugee crisis. If you can help please make an online donation at www.samake2012.com (Put Refugee in the comment field) or at a trust set up: Friends of Mali Trust, 472 East 4380 North, Provo, Utah 84604 (Please note the trust is not tax-deductible).

If you can help today, help make a difference. Every little bit helps. Please, please, let’s do what we can. My friend told me that I can’t save the world but I can add my 2 cents in and maybe others would follow. Well friends, I am putting in $100 towards the crisis. Will you join in and create a domino effect? Are you in? Together, lets help contribute to aid for Northern Malians.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Personal thoughts

March 21st 2012 meant a lot of things for our family. As we celebrated my son Keanen’s 6th birthday, we awaited news about what was happening in the middle of Bamako. What was happening was a coup that would spell the end for a 20-year-old democracy.

As we watched and waited, we were hit with every sensation you would get when you lose something/someone dear. The disbelief, the shock, the dread, the pain that this can’t be true, the anger at the why and finally a gradual acceptance of what cannot be changed.

As soon as dawn broke, Yeah was in different mode. From campaign mode he switched to firefighter and the diplomat. Now was not the time to be threatening action, now was the time to talk and make a plan on how to proceed. However Yeah was not going to just bow down to the coup. He condemned it on National TV and it was never played. He met with Sanogo and told him where he stood but how the country must move forward. As I watched Yeah go through his private struggle, it hit me how much he really did love his country. Inside, he was seething at what had been taken away but the surface was calm and realistic.  During the two weeks that followed, I saw him lead a difficult schedule. Sleep was the last thing on his mind and there were not enough hours in the day. As the rebels gained hold of first Gao, Kidal and then historic Tombouctou, it felt like the nightmare kept getting worse. What could be done? So Yeah did what he knows best? He became the mediator, the connection, the glue between political parties. His country suffering and divided became his own personal hell. You might think I am exaggerating. There is not one person I know that loves his country more than Yeah does. Every dream or task he has ever pursued ultimately lands up in Mali. Some may see it as carefully planning a political future, but what it really is, is the vision that Mali and Malians everywhere deserve better.

As Yeah became more and more tied up with meetings, to me it seemed like what we had been working towards was blown up. It did not seem like we would have elections. Worse still was the constant fear that something bad would happen. With Yeah so heavily involved with politics and the news spreading like wildfire that politicians were being “detained”, we only had to leave our wild imaginations to wonder why and when our turn would come. Secretly, I had packed a small bag and was ready during the first days to hightail with our kids to Ouelessebougou. Yeah kept asking me to go telling me the kids and I needed to be safe but listening never was one of my better qualities. It’s not that I wasn’t scared for the kids, but it terrified me more to see Mali in essence falling apart. Yeah wasn’t going and neither was I. We were in this together. I wasn’t going anywhere! Soon my attentions got fixed on other things. Making sure the world knew what was going on became important. As reports spread and continued to spread of looting, raping and random acts of violence, I continued to write because I felt that my adopted homeland was under fire for things some of which were not true. As people came out of the woodwork claiming atrocities, my heart was angered because I knew that they were doing it to get their two minutes of fame. As sanctions were threatened, I was angered because no person should have to suffer for the actions of someone else. Sanctions were not the answer, but it did get the intended impact and I understand that. I guess I would never be a good politician. As Azawad was claimed by the rebels, my people in the North went hungry. With every day that passed, 500 more refugees were displaced or escaped across the border. More and more the news became about the coup and people lost sight of the mothers, children, fathers and families that died or became another statistic. That continues to be a fight till today. As things in Bamako got better, a light seemed to shine that democracy would indeed we restored.

On Thursday, an interim President was assigned the job. Optimism is returning that politicians will meet around the table to discuss the situation and how best to get out of the crisis that has gripped Mali. This weekend is testament of that as Yeah meets with Burkina Faso President Blaise Campaoré with 70 other politicians from Mali. The aim is one. To unite Malians in an undivided Mali.

Let us not fail Mali now. Mali, now more than ever, needs good leadership. It needs diplomacy. It needs patriotism. It needs, in my humble opinion, Yeah.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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A Deal reached ending Sanctions: political aftermath

As yesterday night passed, so did a deal between ECOWAS and the junta. The consensus concurred with the old constitution that the head of the National Assembly would be named as Mali’s next President. The deal came amidst mounting pressure placed on the junta by economic sanctions.

Within two weeks Mali has not only been further weakened but the number of regions it presides over has been reduced by three. AQIM (an Al-Qaeda branch) and the MNLA have taken over the main regions of Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou. The Tuareg claim is one that has been consistent for the past 50 years going back to when this ethnic group requested their French colonizers to grant them an independent territory. With the return of Gaddhafi’s fallen soldiers that originally hail from Mali, arms have made their demands more attainable. Confusion in the South allowed these groups to take over these three regions in a period of 3 days.

Our Mali divided

This agreement that installs the head of the National Assembly, 70-year old Diacounda, has been received with a mixture of feelings. Diacounda is himself a Presidential candidate and had been pursued by the junta for his alliance with ATT.  Malians in general, while they would not want him as a leader, I think, are glad that the sanctions have been lifted. Two weeks after it started and 1 month before elections were set to happen, one could say that the coup seems almost pointless. My concern however is that coups do not happen for “no” reason. They happen because there is an issue within the government. By installing an “old guard”-one from ATT’s regime that allowed many of ATT’s law to pass the legislative body unquestioned, the issue is not being resolved, merely being brushed over because the world says it’s time for the coup to be over. By not resolving the very reason that the coup happened, which is the government’s inabilities and shortcomings in dealing with corruption and the lack of a well-prepared army, we are setting ourselves up for failure. However all Mali can do at this point is to move forward. Yeah will continue to work with his team ADPS to ensure that the voice of the people is heard in the transitional government and that individuals are instituted in the interim that have Mali’s best interest.

So what does this new deal mean for Mali? The good things are that Mali will get the international help it desperately needs right now. Humanitarian conditions are worsening and in the regions captured Malians are being forced under a rule of terror and religious law. We are thankful that our African neighbors are willing to provide boots on the ground to fight the rebels of the North and free our people that are being oppressed. Another good thing is sanctions are being lifted and the economy once again will breathe a sigh of relief as the flow of goods is restored. On the other hand, no time line has been set in place, on when the change of power will happen. The junta promise that it will be soon. Also, the agreement hints it might be impossible to hold elections within 21-40 days as dictated by the constitution because of the attacks on Mali’s territorial integrity. Before elections can be held, territories need to be regained or let go. To clarify, the regions of Tombouctou, Gao and Kidal do not just hold a Tuareg population. These regions hold a higher percentage of Songhai and Peul. So to allow these territories to just “go” as some countries are suggesting would be to deny citizenship to certain ethnicities that have been part of Mali for centuries.

Mali's various ethnicities

All in all there are some steps in the right direction. It is a hope that the humanitarian crisis will end soon and our brothers and sisters in Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou may once again be free. Within the weeks to come the date of the election will be established as a transitional government is put in place.

The election will go forward. Please continue to show your support at www.samake2012.com. We need you with us as we continue this historic journey. Spread the word, the campaign continues! The spirit of democracy in Mali that is Samake2012 lives on!

For those interested, the agreement (translated into English) reads as:

Whereas a return to constitutional normality requires compliance with the constitution of 25 February 1992 which, in Article 36 organizes the Acting President of the Republic in case of vacancy or incapacity.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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ADPS: A solution from within

Mali as it stands today, finds itself slapped with sanctions, its refugee crisis worsening and with the North declaring their independence. I have always maintained that sanctions do not affect governments but individuals. It would take a lot of individual suffering to get Malians on the street protesting against the junta that believe they have just saved Mali from a bigger evil. So why were sanctions issued? Ecowas, pressured by the international community, felt the need to apply sanctions so that the junta would return the country to democracy and the former constitution.

Democracy is one thing, but the former constitution might be a tall order for a number of reasons. Particularly Article 36 of the former constitution.

Article 36 states: When the President of the Republic is temporarily unable to fulfill his duties, his powers shall be provisionally exercised by the Prime Minister.

In case of a vacancy of the Presidency of Republic for some unforeseen, disruptive cause that is an absolute or unavoidable obstacle, noted by the Constitutional Court, and the President of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister, the functions of the President of the Republic shall be carried out by the President of the National Assembly.

A new process for election of a new president for a new period of five years shall then commence. The election of the new President shall take place between twenty-one and forty days after the official recognition of the vacancy or preventative obstacle.

Diacounda Traoré, leader of Adema-PASJ and a Presidential candidate himself, was the President of the National Assembly, before the junta abandoned the constitution. He was also one of the individuals sought to be arrested by the junta. The junta has been wildly popular for the very reason that Malians believe that ATT and top politicians did nothing to serve the common Malian. By putting back the very individuals that have caused harm (in the people’s eyes) would serve little purpose. In addition, Diacounda’s term expires in July. With three electoral regions fallen, it will be impossible for him to hold elections within the 40 days. First the territorial integrity of Mali needs to be restored. Then, Mali can start to plan elections so the people’s voice can be heard.

Yeah and his team, consisting of 10 other political parties and 3 other presidential candidates have formed the Alliance of Democrats for the Patriots out of the crisis (ADPS) or (l’Alliance des Démocrates Patriotes pour la Sortie de crise (ADPS) in French).

ADPS has been working hard to find a solution that is the most compatible with the previous Constitution.

Yeah has been in consistent meetings for the last two weeks trying to come up with a plan politically that can save Mali from further sanctions and loss of territorial integrity. ADPS stance is that there is no way to restore the constitutional order, as it formerly existed because there would be a political deadlock. ADPS maintains that it is impossible for Diacounda to hold free and fair elections before his term expires as per the constitution.

Article 85 states: “The Constitutional Court is the judge of the constitutionality of the laws and it shall guarantee the fundamental laws of the individual and public liberties. It is the regulating body of the functioning of the institutions and the activity of the Public Powers.”

By instituting article 85 instead, ADPS calls on the constitutional court to organize a national forum with the purpose of legitimizing a transitional authority, an intermediate body that is not party bound and that can oversee the return to democracy.

Here are the governing principles of ADPS:

  1. Pass the state power to a body acceptable to all parties subject to validation by the Constitutional Court under Article 85 of the Constitution;
  2. Restore public confidence in the state and strengthen social peace and national harmony;
  3. Strengthen security measures for people and goods, restart and re-deploy the Administration, the economic and commercial activities;
  4. Ensure freedom of speech and press as well as equal access to all state media;
  5. Obtain immediate ceasefire in northern Mali for the total liberation of the country, the return of refugees and tranquility of the people in the northern part of our country;
  6. Avoid isolation of Mali at the regional and international levels and get support from the international community to implement the program of the Transition;
  7.  Fight against all illicit trafficking, terrorism and all forms of insecurity in the country;
  8. Reform and re-mobilize the armed forces and security by providing them with adequate means to defend the territorial integrity and national unity;
  9. Preserve the physical and moral integrity of all those arrested during the recent events, release those against whom there would be no charge, guarantee respect for human rights and a fair justice for all Malian;
  10. Democratic elections, free, credible and transparent within a realistic timeframe;
  11. Restore the authority of the State.

ADPS has met with embassies (American, French, and Algerian to name a few) and organizations hoping spread their message. To install Diacounda in power would be almost as if the coup was pointless. The coup was an expression of what every Malian has been feeling for the past few years. The feeling of being marginalized by the powers in office. By installing a transitional authority by the constitutional court as the intermediary body, ADPS is suggesting a fresh start while attaining an end goal of restoring the territorial integrity and also organizing elections in which all of Mali can participate. The regions of Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou need to be won back. Mali cannot do this alone. It needs the help of its neighbors to fight the better armed armies of MNLA and AQIM.

The solution has to come from within. In the countries where the international community has come up with the solution, those countries still struggle with the concept of democracy. Democratic rule of law that fits with the culture of its people are very essential to its success. ADPS hopes that while the international community will help with gaining back territories, but ultimately, the political solution to Mali’s crisis needs to be born on Mali soil and in the hearts of Malians.

ADPS hopes to invite all political leaders to a national forum. The Forum hopes to outline what ADPS espouses but more importantly, hopes that all political parties will put aside their partisan differences and will have one goal only and that is the good of Mali and the Malian people. It is also hoped at the Forum that Malians can together agree on how the transition can be managed, the period of transition and the President of the transition government. Also it will be essential to decide how the three lost territories can be won back effectively and without the loss of lives.

This national Forum is a crucial step in the restoration of national unity, territorial integrity and peace throughout Mali.

Once order is restored, then fair elections must be held. Fair elections are the very heart of democracy. Without free and fair elections, the leader that gets selected becomes a farce to be put up with.

My two cents. I hope that Mali, my adoptive country, will come together and build some consensus on how to resolve the power vacuum and how democracy can be successfully restored. We cannot blindly assume that things should return to the way they were two weeks ago. Things happen for a reason. The coup happened for a reason. That means something was not working. Now is Mali’s chance to rectify the thing that wasn’t working. To go back to the same situation would be to repeat the mistake that was made. If we do this, in 20 more years we will find ourselves at the same crossroads and no closer to a solution. Let’s get this right so that Mali as a whole can truly once again become the beacon of democracy it should be.

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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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A Double Whammy: The North Falls and the Refugee Count Rises

As the weekend passed, the new work week invited new changes in Mali. Over the weekend, MNLA and AQIM made advances in the North and as Mali watched, the three biggest regions of Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou fell. This could have been possibly the worst thing that could have happened at this critical time. As soldiers found themselves ill-prepared and distracted, these rebels took over the North and the count of captured territories increased.

These takeovers further cement how inadequate this new regime is to handle the various issues of Mali. The very issue of the North that caused them to revolt is now biting again. In addition, we are starting to hear residents in those areas report that the Islamists are ordering Western pictures to be taken down and Sharia law is already being implemented in Timbuktu. As the reports of change came out of the North, last night the countries around Mali followed through on their promise of sanctions locked down their borders. Under the sanctions, the five neighboring ECOWAS members will close their borders with landlocked Mali except for humanitarian purposes. Its member states are to deny Mali access to their ports, freeze Mali’s accounts in regional banks and suspend Mali’s participation in cultural and sporting events. Also in the works, is the possible deployment of 2000 military soldiers from the neighboring countries. It is still confusing as to whether these soldiers will attempt to take down the military leadership or be deployed to fight rebels in the North.

Sanctions could be disastrous for Mai that relies on imports for most of its goods. The biggest one is fuel as Mali imports all its fuel from neighboring Ivory Coast. No fuel could spell trouble for gas stations and residents. Yesterday night, when the embargo was announced, people rushed to gas stations to fill up afraid that fuel would run out. Also with the banks being cut of the money supply, residents that rely on banks could be very affected. Most Malians however do not bank and so this might not be a thing that affects them. Rising food prices and things like cement and fuel being in short supply are more likely to happen as Malians adjust to the sanctions.

Sanogo, continues to say he will hand back power and in the face of sanctions, he continues to make these promises without attaching a deadline. Yeah continues to work with other political parties to make leaps and bounds that hopefully will see results. The hope is for Sanogo to cede power peacefully. Already Yeah and his team are in talks with the different embassies and also different organizations that can help facilitate this process. Now is the time for peace talks, not sanctions and threats. Now is also the time to start backing our army with better prepared and equipped outside forces so that the rebels do not decide to consider taking their offensive further south.  It certainly will back fire to have a radicalized violent extremist movement well rooted in Northern Mali.  This is bound to threaten regional stability.

If the sanctions continue, it could be disastrous. Already the Northern regions are experiencing deteriorating conditions. In addition to a drought and extremely hot weather, almost 200000 refugees are displaced by the fighting in the region. These individuals need help now. There are children that are dying every day because of inability to get food and water. The heat is unbearable and makes conditions even worse. April is the hottest month for Mali and here temperatures in the North easily reach 120F. Now more than ever, our Malian brothers and sisters need your help. We need funds that can not only handle the immediate concern of improving their living conditions. Once we have answered that need, a need to stabilize them in society becomes essential.

A rising count. 2000 in the last 5 days!!

I have said it before, but I am compelled to say it again. People in the world need to realize that the refugee issue is not just a Mali issue; it is a human rights issue. We have refugees that are living in despicable conditions with little to no resources. Our teams have been attempting to raise refugee aid to help our displaced Malian brothers and sisters while the issue in the North plays out. We are calling on the international community to step up aid to these displaced people so that basic necessities like food, water and shelter are given them so that we don’t have a similar issue like that in Sudan and Somalia. Those interested in doing so through the Samake 2012 campaign may make anonymous donations to a trust that has been set up:

Friends of Mali Trust

472 East 4380

North Provo, Utah 84604

As soon as the current violence ends in the north, a new need will arise: Helping those who have been displaced to return and resettle into productive lives.  In East Africa, many displaced populations have suffered for years – prohibited from finding local employment near their shantytowns, they have become dependent upon western aid organizations. In some cases, these camps have witnessed second and even third generations growing up in these conditions.

Mali must be different. The people of Mali are strong and independent.   Beyond the immediate aid needed to sustain life, we also seek just enough aid to help families return to their formerly productive lives.

If you can help today, help make a difference. Every little bit helps.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Kidal Falls

A landlocked country, sanctions could mean devastating economic trouble

Today we find ourselves in the first 24 hours of the threatened economic sanctions that will be imposed in 48 more hours by ECOWAS if Mali’s junta does not hand over power to the people. To be vigilant, we decided to stock up on things like water, drink cases, rice, potatoes and sugar. If ECOWAS does impose sanctions it will cause great harm to the Malian individual. It strikes me as ridiculous that the UN would actually make a statement saying that they hoped the individual would not be harmed by these sanctions. Sanctions do not harm governments, they harm individuals. The junta has apologized for the protestors that rushed onto the tarmac, causing a security scare to the oncoming ECOWAS plane. They have asked that ECOWAS leaders not to be hasty in their decision but rather to understand the circumstances of the coup and how the junta leaders are attempting to resolve Mali’s economic concerns and the security issues in the North.  The old constitution of Mali stated that if the President resigned, power would be handed over to the head of the National Assembly. In this case the head of the old Assembly is Diacounda, a presidential candidate and one of the very leaders that the junta has accused of stealing from the country and showing ineffective leadership. In addition, Diacounda is not liked by a majority of Malian people. However ECOWAS is asking that they would accept a resolution with Diacounda being placed as the interim President.

If the junta does allow this to happen, Diacounda would be taken out of the running in any elections held for the Presidency. If ECOWAS continues to push its agenda, it will find itself hated by Malians who will see it as bullying tactics pure and simple. A bigger, more complex issue would be to deal with the dissatisfaction of the people. The Malian people are very supportive of the junta currently. Not because they believe in the coup and the end of democracy, but because of their frustration with the old government. Malians do not believe their government has served them. They see corruption and nepotism rampant and when the coup happened, it seemed the answer they were looking for to end the situation of an inept government. This explains the sentiment that runs high in the protests in the streets.

However, this sentiment may soon find itself conflicted. Today, the Northern town of Kidal, which has about 25,000 Malians, came under attack by MNLA and was taken over by the rebels. Kidal is a major town and in all disputes it has never been taken over so this takeover could be disastrous. The reason behind the coup was the military’s dissatisfaction with ATT sending them into battle unprepared and uncared for. Now with Kidal falling to rebel control, it begs the question, what is the military doing so we don’t lose more territories in the North and cause a bigger humanitarian crisis with the refugees. The refugee crisis is worsening with each passing day and as each town falls, more and more escape into neighboring areas and countries.

Wall Street Journal: The displaced and fleeing numbers

The military this afternoon, called on the international community to provide them with assistance with the rebels in the North. This is a large favor to ask, given that in the world’s eyes, this junta isn’t even considered a legitimate leader.

At this point in time the junta looks like it’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. If it does not give in to ECOWAS it will have sanctions imposed which could cause an economic crisis. If it does not stop more towns like Gao and Tombouctou from falling to the rebels, the Malian people might turn against the soldiers that a week ago were saviors. The next week will spell the junta’s fate and that of 15 million people.

Please continue to keep the people of Mali in your prayers. They are the ones that are suffering with each passing day. May a quick resolution be sought so democracy may be restored in a peaceful manner. May the international community support Malians so that no more lives are lost or families displaced in the North. May peace once again be returned to Mali.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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