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Mali’s Muddle

This past week has been a huge political muddle. May 22nd was to spell the last day of office for interim President Dioncounda Traoré. A deal brokered by the African nation’s body ECOWAS sought to extend his term for 12 months. Now Dioncounda would have limited powers and the main running of the country would fall in the hands of the Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra.

On Monday, protesters unhappy with the forced decision to keep Dioncounda marched on Mali’s palace. There in the heat of the moment, the 70-year old Dioncounda was injured and admitted to the Mali hospital with head injuries. Now people are saying the junta that was supposed to be protecting the President let these protestors in. On the other side, we have also heard that there was a scheduled meeting between Dioncounda and 10 individuals that represented opposing factions. When these 10 individuals came to meet the President and were waved in by the guards, the protesters pushed past as well. Either story while the second may remove the junta’s involvement are hard to corroborate and point to the finer meaning that not even the highest office in the country is safe from protest.

As Bamako watched the news of this attack spread, we were in disbelief. While I am a big believer in democratic process and making your opinion heard, I am also of the belief that human beings need to act like human beings and not animals. In addition, in a society that reveres its elderly, for a 70-year old individual to be assaulted by youth is something that Malians do not take kindly to. That next morning, in secrecy Dioncounda was flown to Paris to be admitted for further testing. That evening, there was another protest held which claimed that Sanogo would be the new President. This protest was only attended by a few 1000 compared to the tens of thousands the previous day. This could mean one of two things. One, many people were shocked that the events of the previous day got so out of hand and also many people felt that Sanogo betrayed them when he took a deal with ECOWAS that bestowed him with an ex-President’s privileges. Sanogo, for his part, other than condemning the violence of the protests, has remained quiet. He as brokered a pretty sweet deal for himself. He would get paid $10000/month (5 million cfa), a house, two cars and a security detail. So the gift he is getting for bringing so much insecurity is very big. In a country so poor, one can only imagine how anyone can get so much money when the average Malian makes less than a $1 a day. The question that also is high on every ones minds is that Sanogo has benefitted but what about the 500+ odd men under the junta. If they feel that Sanogo has betrayed them, then things could get ugly.

This past week Yeah met with the Prime Minister to discuss the ongoing situation. The Prime Minister has condemned the actions of the mob and called on people to be calm using the Bambara word “Sabali” which means “patience” several times in an address to the nation. Yeah also had an opportunity to talk with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux on the issues in Mali. Take a listen at CNN below. You can also find this on http://samake2012.com/updates/

http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/24/amid-chaos-malians-hope-to-get-their-nation-back-on-track/

The North continues to remain in the hands of rebels and the ties that these groups are building are very dangerous to Mali’s stability. Mali’s AZAWAD last week even installed their own President over the North. There has been talk of Mali letting these three regions go. If that happened, I think the outcry in Mali would be huge. These territories not only house the Tuaregs that want their independence but also many other ethnic groups, of which the Tuaregs are a minority. By allowing an independent state to emerge, Mali would be allowing a territory in which groups similar to the Taliban will emerge. In essence Al-Qaeda would be able to get a new playground to harvest various training camps and illegal activities. The entire world will pay the price if the North becomes another Al-Qaeda festering pot. In all this, Malians will pay the heaviest price. With Sharia law already established in Tombouctou, Malians are already being suppressed. Malians in the South need to focus their attentions on the Northern regions. Aid is not the only thing the North needs. It needs freedom from groups attempting to take away civil liberties. If the world wants to get involved it needs to be putting pressure on these groups to pull out. Yeah spoke with CNN’s Erin Burnett about the Northern issue in Mali.

In this entire ruckus, the one thing that remains as forgotten today as it was two months ago is the growing refugee situation. The situation is worse today as the numbers continue to climb. People are living in despicable conditions and while the aid is coming in more now than before, it cannot meet the growing demand. It amazes me that when the earthquake happened in Haiti, the American celebrities put on a great fundraiser and raised a lot of money to benefit Haiti. Probably because Haiti was closer to home. However, the refugee situation has not gained the support of celebrities despite Angelina Jolie being called as a special envoy for the UN High Commission for Refugees. The need is great, the supply is small. Next week, Yeah plans to go to Mopti where some of the refugees are and then later to Burkina Faso. The hope is to assess the growing need and then provide the refugees with some much needed food.

The one thing that never fails to amaze me is the tenacious strength of the Malian people. Through all this, they continue to build their lives, taking in stride the changing forces. As noted before, their faith in their politicians is very low and their belief is as long as the politicians don’t make their lives worse, life will go on. Here it is hard for people to look to the future when their present is so filled with turmoil and hardship. But the Malian people will prevail like they have before. They deserve a much needed break. They definitely deserve better leaders who will give their needs a priority. Mali’s mess cannot be solved by self-serving politicians. It needs honest leadership!

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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Analyzing Mali’s strife

Mali currently stands on the cusp of a big decision to be made. On one side, a deal favored by ECOWAS would be to allow interim President Dioncounda Traoré to serve the next 12 months as President of the transitional government. On the other side, would be to choose a new president during the transition. Mali remains divided on this decision. Many would prefer Dioncounda to leave office on May 22nd as per the Malian constitution. To many, Dioncounda is a reminder of the “old guard” that allowed things to get so bad in Mali, a reminder that Malians would soon like to put behind them.

On May 21st, in response to a forced decision by ECOWAS to have Dioncounda serve as a transitional President, tens of thousands of protesters marched on the palace and brought harm to Dioncounda, who had to be admitted to hospital for head injuries.

Analysis from Presidential Candidate: N. Yeah Samaké

Yeah has always maintained that the solution to Mali needs to come from inside the country. In a Voice of America interview, he said: “Mali needs its partners, but we need to make sure that this is a Malian solution. We cannot make this solution outside of Mali [because] that will be an imposition. We don’t want that and it is not going to be a lasting solution”.

In response to today’s violence, Yeah stated: “These acts are condemnable. However may it serve as a lesson that there needs to be a concerted effort at a solution that is acceptable to all Malians, who believe the act of choosing a President is a sovereign decision.  After the violent reactions to the decision made by ECOWAS, we can anticipate a number of outcomes:

1) Follow the status quo decision keeping Dioncounda as the president of the transitional government as his term as interim President ends today. This means that ECOWAS will choose the interim President who will ultimately honor all agreements during the transitional power. The advantage of this decision will save Mali and ECOWAS from the daunting task of bringing Malians together to have a consensual President. It is also conducive to a quick return to an acceptable, seemingly acceptable constitutional order that is a pre-requisite for involvement of the international community. The drawback of the decision would be the sustainability of the solution beyond the 12 months transition. This decision excludes the participation of political leaders who are ultimately going to become the decision makers to upload the agreements made during the next 12 months.

2) The consensual decision. This implies the organization of a national convention that Sanogo and several political players have called for. This will allow for a consensual transitional body that will be accepted by all involved parties. This alternative will ensure a more stable transition supported by all the stakeholders. As a drawback this option may not be warmly received by the international community. As a result, Mali may continue to receive sanctions imposed by bilateral and multilateral partners such as ECOWAS, US, France, World Bank and the IMF. Ultimately the withdrawal of this support would cripple the country from the capacity to resolve the rebellion in Northern Mali.

3) An elected transition President as suggested by ADPS. ADPS is formed with 14 other political parties and their solution would allow Malian political leaders, civil society, and the junta soldiers to be proportionally represented in a 30-person body. Seven representatives of the military, 18 represented from the political parties and five from civil society. This 30-person body will elect the transitional president in their midst excluding the military representatives. This alternative would take the longest to achieve. It may also not receive the blessings of the international community. However the outcome would be the most compatible with the constitutional order. This alternative will offer the most legitimate form of leadership, where the president is actually elected and the remaining 29 members form the legislative body. The legislative body will replace the current Assembly that is reaching the end of its term. This option will resolve the unpopular decision to prolong the term limits of the Assembly which violates the constitution.

So which one is the best option for the Malian people? At the end of the day, Mali as a whole represented by leaders of civil and political society need to come together and decide. Mali’s future cannot be planned by other leaders and countries who are driven by foreign agendas. This solution has to be about the best for Mali and Mali alone.

Yeah would certainly love to hear your comments on which alternative would be your pick.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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On the agenda for Mali’s new Interim President

Today at 9am GMT, Malians around the country tuned in to their TV sets to watch the Malian government become legitimized at least in the world’s eyes. The roller-coaster of events that derailed a 20 year democracy saw a crest as an interim President Diacounda Traoré was sworn in.

So what does this mean for Mali? Diacounda’s task is by no means a small one. Plan of action during the next 40 days: reunite the country and set up elections. With Islamist forces taking over the North and calling for the independence of Azawad, Mali is in essence being divided. There is no clear indication as to which groups are involved in the takeover of the North. Initially, while it was thought that MNLA and AQIM were the only forces, it is becoming more and more apparent that many smaller factions may be involved like MUJWA, MUJAO, GSPC and GIA (http://thewasat.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/the-black-flag-flies-in-mali/). The latest report points at Boko Haram members in Gao. This is the same group that takes credit for its violence in Nigeria. If it is true that all these groups are operating in the North, the Northern regions of Mali are already proving to be a dangerous breeding ground which if not contained and eliminated could spread to the rest of Mali and even West Africa. More and more this takeover is becoming more about just having the land and free range to do as they please versus trying to create a better equal environment for the Tuaregs. This is best shown by the degree of looting and destruction of property as well as the harm of individuals. If one truly wanted to take over land for the end purpose of freeing one’s “oppressed” people, then one would not scare its residents or destroy hospitals, pharmacies, stores etc that are the proof of a civilized community. No! No one is trying to free the Tuaregs. What is happening is a personal agenda of terrorist organizations to take over a territory that can be best used to facilitate their drug and trafficking activities and serve as a breeding ground for training camps. What we have is a pre-9/11 Afghanistan being created.

The Rebels in the North

The Black Flag flies in Tombouctou signifying Ansar-Al Dine presence.

Furthermore, in the region of Tombouctou, there is the imposition of Sharia law, which essentially the leader of Ansar Al-Dine wants for the whole of Mali. What would Sharia mean for Mali? Well for one, the wearing of veils would become mandatory as it is now for our sisters in Tombouctou. Women are a very fashion oriented gender in Mali and would not appreciate being told how to dress or how to look. More serious however, would be the strict observance of Islam, which would seem out of place in this moderately Muslim country. Also, Muslim law follows a very strict punishment policy with thieves/vandals having their hands cut off and adulterers being stoned.

So how are we to restore territorial integrity? Initially, when the three territories had fallen, the junta had asked the African Union to provide help. The African Union stands ready to provide a 3000 strong army, but the junta have said, we don’t need boots just give us arms. The Malian army is a 7000 strong army and has been trained for many years by foreign forces to battle these problems in the North. However, not even the bravest of soldiers will run into battle without arms. Arms are a necessary evil but plans need to be carefully drawn and dialogue needs to happen before war. Waging a war without assessing future impacts could be dangerous. We do not want to harm more innocent lives. Plus the Malian army is capable( if equipped) and are more familiar with the desert regions. For all their mistakes, the junta, only 500 strong does not speak for Mali’s army and did not create the Northern problem; they exacerbated it by causing a moment of weakness for the country.

A forgotten people

In addition with the drought of the region, the refugee crisis worsens with each passing day. My heart aches to think of mothers that watch their children die and cannot do a thing about it. My heart aches as the number of people fleeing their homes grows each day. In this day and age, to watch one part of the world flourish and another continue to suffer seems unimaginable. But it exists. It gives individuals like me an opportunity to share my blessings and make a difference to someone in need. Yeah has been working with various organizations to make this possible. Hopefully soon, we will see these organizations shipping containers bringing much needed food. We have also set up a trust to accept anonymous donations if you can help: Friends of Mali Trust, 472 East 4380, North Provo, Utah 84604 or you may donate online at www.samake2012.com and put the keyword “refugee” in the comment field. If you today, could make a difference, please do. Even $1 will feed a child for a day in Mali. Imagine what $10 could do? Imagine what $100 could do? And if you cannot help financially, use the blessing of your voice and spread the word to your network. Let this not become another “African” problem or “not my problem”.

Given these issues, can Diacounda truly set up elections within the next 40 days? The answer is one riddled with ifs. If Diacounda truly embodies the things his party ADEMA says about him like “very keen on working toward consensus” and “a man of the people” (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/04/20124917549965212.html), then maybe a united Mali is possible. Diacounda cannot do this alone. He has to work with other political parties whose leaders are not contaminated with embezzlement and bad governance. “We will never negotiate the partition of Mali,” Traoré said in his inauguration speech in which he promised to organize “free and transparent elections over the whole of the national territory”. Time will tell. The only solution now is for Diacounda to surround himself with “true” leaders who view Mali’s unity and integrity and the Malian peoples safety as their personal goal.

Tomorrow, Yeah will fly out with other members of ADPS to Burkina Faso. Why Burkina? The ECOWAS team has assigned President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campaoré, as their mediator for the Mali crisis. Yeah and his team will present to the President of Burkina, their joint solution to saving Mali from further casualties and loss of territory. This is an important meeting and dialogue is the key to breeding a Mali solution rather than an international plan to restore Mali to its former self.

We will not rest till Mali is whole again. We will not rest till democracy is restored. We will not rest till every refugee returns home. That is the Samake2012 fight! Are you in? Make your voice heard today at http://www.samake2012.com

 
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Posted by on April 12, 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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The crisis deepens

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/

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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.

Ecowas Protest ( Reuters)

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.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Neighborhood bands together to support their candidate

Look at those huge speakers!! Photo courtesy of tomathon.com

The relationship of neighbors is a tricky one. In America, you either hate them or like them or love them. In Mali, neighbor relationships work differently.The neighbor relationship is a sacred one in which neighbors try not to offend each other. In Faladjie, where we live, two events showed the growing support of the neighborhood for Yeah.

The first was a balani that was organized by Nana, our next door neighbor, to raise awareness about the presence of a presidential candidate in the street. A balani is a musical event in which a DJ is hired that plays music so loud that your heart pounds with every beat and your window shakes with every speaker tremor. Balani is a strain of Malian Coupé Décalé with little guitar, fast percussion and melodies played on the Balafon (Malian xylophone). Coupé-Décalé is a music style featuring mostly African instruments, deep bass, and repetitive arrangements. Music affects the very heart of Malian culture and is every bit important here as the busy social life. I remember my first balani two years ago. It was a very special event that was put on by Yeah’s family in Ouelessebougou to celebrate my arrival in the village.

This youtube video truly captures what the balani is all about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaiWl9Yz2uc

The Samake2012 balani was set to start at 5pm but like all good Malian parties started at 9pm. The music blaring invited the youth from ours and surrounding streets to see what all the noise was about. The youth put on several dances throughout the night rapping about PACP and Yeah. The DJ described Yeah’s efforts and the dream that Mali would be free of poverty and corruption if they elected a young leader who had the capacity to bring change. It was an awesome night!! Good heart thumping music, great message and a wonderful support from neighbors.

The balani gave rise to an informal meeting by the youth of the street who asked Yeah to come speak to them so they could see how to best help the campaign. It also provided an opportunity to Yeah to learn what further affects the next generation of Malians. The meeting was a success and provided additional much needed support to Yeah’s already growing campaign.

Yeah speaking in Faladjie

The political atmosphere is amazing right now. Things move so fast that each day differs in political achievements. PACP is becoming the theme of change and many Malian youth and middle aged individuals are seeing it as their chance for a changed Mali. We were blessed to receive the support of our neighborhood. May their excitement be replicated thousand fold through Mali as the election fast approaches on April 29th.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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