RSS

Tag Archives: malian woman

The rapidly changing political circus

This weekend has been long and relaxing. With Yeah being back in town, we decided to escape the busy political mess of Bamako for the quiet of Ouelessebougou, where Yeah is still the Mayor. The kids have been extremely excited that Yeah has returned, especially Carmen who now has her teasing partner back. However, life did not get less busy for Yeah as his mayoral duties reclaimed his attention.

The changing weather has aligned with the changing political scene. One day it could rain cats and dogs and the very next day the sun shines so brightly that the idea of rain seems unbelievable. However, the rain has brought some much-needed relief to drought stricken Mali and an early start to Mali’s rainy season.

But while the rain is much awaited and much-needed, the changing political scene has brought about controversial debate. On May 22nd, Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traoré was to step aside and make way for a transitional president as per the constitution of Mali. Many in Mali’s political circle were in favor of a strict observance of the 40-day rule by DioncoundaTraoré because for many he represented the “old guard” that had failed to protect Mali’s best interest and instead lined their own pockets.

Captain Sanogo congratulates Interim President Dioncounda at his investiture ceremony

For a few weeks, there had been much debate between ECOWAS and the junta. For all their claims of giving up power, the junta has been very much involved in Mali’s political scene, going as far as to arrest politicians they believed to be involved in “threats” against the country. It is interesting to note also that in the past few weeks, journalists have accused them of threat tactics like phone tapping and arresting an editor of a local newspaper. The national TV continues to depict a very strong junta involvement, where they can be seen at events representing the government. ECOWAS was never able to provide the junta with a sense of security that nothing would happen to them if they left power. This may explain the junta attempting to maintain a very strong role in the government.

The debate has now been ended at least temporarily. A new deal was cut yesterday between the junta and ECOWAS. The verdict is that Dioncounda will serve the entire transition as the President until elections are held next year. This makes him ineligible to run for office when elections are held. However, who’s to say this will be honored. His role as President will remain merely as a figure-head. The country will be run by the Prime Minister Cheick Diarra and the transitional government. The interesting thing to note is that Sanogo has come out of this deal better off. As part of the deal, he has been given all the privileges that a former head of state would have like a lifetime salary, a home, bodyguards, and amnesty from criminal proceedings. Given that political leaders have not been involved in the mediation process, should a democratically elected president uphold these agreements?

All the while Sanogo has been stating how the Malian people are first and the minute a deal gets offered that favors the junta and primarily himself, he jumps on it. It is to be noted that the junta was under extreme external pressure from countries in the European Union, the African Union and the US. However, a majority of the Malian people have been adamant that Dioncounda not serve the transitional period as President. He has hardly done anything in the 40 days he has been in power. The North remains as divided as ever and if anything, terrorist groups like AQIM and MUJWA are only making themselves comfortable. The refugee situation gets direr every day and the aid is only getting to the boundaries of these captured zones.

Already, angry protesters have taken to the streets as of Saturday, expressing their discontent with the decision made. Members belonging to groups like APMA and other youth groups have organized a sit in at the monument of independence. Their claim is that they will not leave until Dioncounda leaves power. Today demonstrations continue as people express their discontent. There have been reports of disorderly conduct like burning tires and an atmosphere similar to that after the coup first happened. Dioncounda has been reported to be killed in these protests but there is no verification in that story or the many others that are feeding fuel to the flame. The one thing that is certain is that for most at this stage of the game, it isn’t even about Dioncounda anymore. Many feel like ECOWAS bullied the junta and ultimately most Malians into doing what they wanted done. However some also feel like the junta has let them down by giving in, especially in exchange for favors.

Courtesy of AP reporter Baba Ahmed : Protesters march on the royal palace. Look at the throngs of people

Hopefully, ECOWAS and the international community will correct their mistake quickly for the solution to Mali’s issues needs to come from Mali, not the outside. Only then will true democracy be possible. If the solution is a forced solution where the people feel like Mali’s junta are being held hostage to a decision, then the support will be limited. ECOWAS get Mali’s politicians and leaders involved in our country decisions before it is too late!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Empowering women

The weekend has passed in somewhat of a peaceful manner despite isolated, unverified reports of gunfire in central Bamako.The ECOWAS rhetoric has now moved from forcing troops on Mali to stating that troops will only be deployed if the Malian government gives the go ahead.

Yeah spent the last week in Salt Lake City trying to raise awareness and also continue to raise funds for the refugees and his campaign. Thank you to Adele Kammeyer and Susan Escalante for helping arrange a meet and greet and a cottage-style meeting respectively! This coming week he heads to New York, DC and Boston to do much of the same, especially meeting with Senators that oversee America’s foreign policy.

As Yeah remains busy in the US trying to meet with individuals and American leaders to raise awareness on the situation in Mali, his party PACP continues to make leaps and bounds here.

As turmoil embroils the lives of the basic citizen, PACP continues to do the things that might improve these citizen’s lives. Today saw such an opportunity. Bamba, a local businessman, spent some time with a group of women teaching them skills that they can then market. For example, he taught them about micro enterprise that would help finance businesses and also how to make fabric and peanut butter.

This kind of entrepreneurship is essential to helping Mali’s individuals make a living for themselves in a country where jobs are scarce and the likelihood of making more than the $1 is incredibly low. May many such meetings happen and may women finally get a break from the hardship that has become their lifestyle.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Developments towards a sustainable democracy

As the political uncertainty hovers around Mali, the average Malian individual’s life has returned back to somewhat of a normalcy. It is not that people do not care. However, there are more important things for the average Malian than what is happening or not happening in central Bamako. Malians have been served a plate of misery and as long as their leaders don’t make their deplorable lifestyles even worse, they will usually not speak out. However, despite this, if one were to ask a Malian what they think about the situation currently, most Malians will just shake their heads in amazement as to how Mali will get out of this dilemma and which leader is honest and capable enough to help do it.

Part of the plan made between the political class of Mali and the junta in Burkina Faso was to choose a prime minister who would then choose a transitional government that would take the country one step closer to restoring democracy. Yesterday, the big announcement came that most of the political circle and international community was watching and waiting for. The announcement of the transitional government.

The agreement reached on April 6th between the ECOWAS and the junta was that the transitional government would be a national unity government. That is it would contain representatives from all national forces. This was not to be and the Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra created a 24-member government without consultation with the political parties, whose members had not served in the prior President’s cabinet.  The breakdown is 21 ministers and 3 deputy ministers. Of the 21 ministers, three army representatives close to military leaders who overthrew the government last month are part of this government. They hold three of the big posts namely, defense, interior and civil protection. 3 of the 21 ministers are women. The way the government was created has caused some unhappiness in the political circles, especially from the bigger parties that have ruled Mali’s political scene for many decades. There was a hope that some of their representatives would have been part of the new government and many of these parties had spent long weeks trying to sweeten the deal with the junta and then the Prime Minister. An interesting fact to note also is that most of these appointed individuals do not have a heavily involved political background. In addition a few have spent a majority of their time outside Mali and have ties to neighboring countries and international institutions.

The appointments are as follows:

1 – Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and international cooperation: Sadio Lamine SOW

Sadio, has had little political clout in Mali. His main role has been as an aide to Burkina Faso President Blaise Campaoré (the mediator assigned by ECOWAS to help with this crisis). He has worked a majority of his life outside Mali. Having this individual fill this role might come across as a conflict of interest given his close ties to another country’s President.

2 – Minister of economy, finance and Budget: Tiéna COULIBALY

Tiéna Coulibaly is better known in Mali as the Director of the Malian Textile Development Company (CMDT) and former Director of Mali’s Cotton Privatization Agency. Also interesting is that he held the same exact position under President Moussa Traoré, who was overthrown by ATT in the 1991 coup.

3 – Minister of defense and former combatants: Colonel – Major Yamoussa CAMARA (This is a post that is held by one of the junta’s people.)

4 – Minister of internal security and Civil Protection: General Tiéfing KONATE (Another post that is held by one of the junta’s people.)

5 – Minister of public service, governance and administrative reforms and policies, Chargé des Relations with Institutions: Namory TRAORE Mamadou

Dr. Namory TRAORE Mamadou has served as the National Director of Health in the past.

6 – Minister of Territorial Administration, decentralization and development of the territory: Colonel Moussa COULIBALY Sinko (Another post that is held by one of the junta.)

This is an important post given that this individual will work to ensure free and fair elections in all territories. Also this individual before this appointment was the junta leader’s chief of staff.

7 – Minister of trade, mines and industry: Ahmadou TOURE

Interesting fact is that M. Toure is the brother-in-law of the candidate of the URD, Soumaïla Cissé, who was arrested in the wave of arrests recently.

8 – Minister of Agriculture, breeding and fishing: Moussa SIDIBE Léo

M. Sidibe belongs to ADEMA, the same political party as the interim President. He served as the Secretary General for the Ministry of Agriculture under the previous administration.

9 – Minister of youth, labor, employment and vocational training: Mamadou DIAKITE

10 – Minister of health: Soumana MAKADJI

11 – Minister of Education, literacy and the Promotion of the national languages: Adama OUANE

12 – Minister of Justice, keeper of the seals: Malick COULIBALY

A change in what has become norm, M. Coulibaly has been a firm critic of judges and justice in Mali. His classmates from Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA Bamako) and colleagues recognize him as “a principled, honest, rigorous work.” His task will be to fight the corruption that has seeped deep into the government.

13 – Minister of Malians abroad and African integration: Ms. TRAORE Rokia GUIKINE

A career diplomat, Ms Traore was Ambassador of Mali to Gabon, technical advisor and director of international cooperation. Before her appointment, she was the secretary general of Soumeylou Boubèye Maiga, former Foreign Ministry.

14 – Minister of Humanitarian Action, solidarity and the elderly: Dr Mamadou SIDIBE

M. Sidibe was a former Director of Human Resources (HR) of Health, Social Development and Promotion of Women and Children. Given the travelling he has done as part of his previous roles, he is recognized as a connoisseur of the country. The expectation on him will be to assess the health and humanitarian situation in the North where the situation is dire.

15 – Minister of the family, the advancement of women and the child: Madam ALWATA Ichata SAHI

Madam Sahi is an active and influential member of the Women’s Movement in the ADEMA party. She also previously served as the African Representative for Afrique de l’ouest de l’Organisation Panafricaine des Femmes.

16 – Minister of energy, water and the environment: Alfa Bocar NAFO

 Served as CEO of the Regional Solidarity Bank (BRS).

17 – Crafts, Culture and Tourism Minister: Mrs. DIALLO Fadime TOURE

A sister-in-law of Madani Diallo, a prominent member of ADEMA and candidate in the 2002 presidential election.

18 – Minister of Communication, post and New Technologies: Hamadoun TOURE

Dr. Hamadoun Touré of Mali has been Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the specialized agency of the Nations dedicated to information and communication technologies (ICTs), since 2007. He was re-elected for a second four-year term in 2010. Also he was the spokesman for the United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire last year and is very close to Ivoirian President Alassane Ouattara.

19 – Minister of equipment, transport, housing and urbanism: Mamadou COULIBALY

20 – Minister of higher education and scientific research: Harouna KANTE

21 – Minister of sport: Hameye Founé MAHALMADANE

M. MAHALMADANE was previously the secretary general of the Free Trade Union of Magistrates (SYLMA) and a very active campaigner against the constitutional reforms initiated by former President Amadou Toumani Toure.

22 – Minister delegate to the Minister of economy, finance and the Budget, Chargé du Budget: Marimpa SAMOURA

23 – Minister delegate to the Minister of the public service, responsible for policy reforms and Relations with Institutions: Yacouba DIALLO

24 – Minister delegate to the Minister of youth, labor and employment and vocational training, responsible for youth and vocational training: Bruno MAÏGA

It will be interesting to watch and see how this new government will operate. While it is interesting to note the lack of political know how of the appointees, it will also be refreshing to not have individuals that have been soaked in bad policies and corruption.  Corruption remains one of the biggest challenges in Malian government and is one of the reasons that ATT lost favor during the last few years. There does seem to be a few players and connections from ADEMA, which lends the perception that the interim president Diacounda Traoré might have pushed the vote in certain party affiliated individual’s directions.

The aim of this transitional government is to set a date for fair and free elections and in essence help the Prime Minister run the government until elections can be held.

Things are progressing in the right direction. The coup has opened up the possibility for Mali to root out the inefficiencies and corruption that was making Mali a democracy in name alone. The hope is that once our territories are returned and our people come back home in the North, then elections can be held that will allow the people to once again choose their leader.

Yeah has said, ““The junta has given us the opportunity to change Mali,” adding that the coup of March 22 exposed the political dysfunction in Mali. Through this crisis, democracy must be rebuilt on a solid foundation. “If we miss this opportunity, the castle of Malian democracy will still grow on the same sand that made it collapse,” Yeah has said. This objective will be achieved when “the old guard agrees to make way for the new generation,” he concluded.

Sounds like the needful is happening. Small steps to a bigger, hopefully better future.

Some recent articles in the news:

  1. Canard Dechaine( in French): Niankoro Yeah Samake, president of the PACP: “We will not accept that Mali is untrustworthy”
    1. English version click here
  2. Zero Hora( Brazilian Newspaper): Interview with Yeah
    1. English version click here
  3. India West: Wife of Malian Presidential Candidate Encourages Democracy
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The price of conflict

Mali’s present and future. The children celebrate a new school that will be built because of @YeahSamake work with building schools

For many weeks now, I have watched the internal crisis develop in Mali and throw the country into disarray. Many sectors have been affected as the junta dismantled any leadership that governed the different bodies that make up the country. Last week, the country saw the first real sign of returning back to pre-coup time as a new Prime Minister was named. However, the damage has been done and 20 years of democracy crushed in an instant of loss of control cannot be undone as easily.

So far little has been heard from the interim President Diacounda Traoré, in terms of what he is doing to get the country back on track. His term ends in about a month and his job is to do the things that will prepare the country for elections. A big part of that job involves the reunification of Mali and regaining the three lost territories. The job of the Prime Minister is to announce a transitional government. The PM and the transitional government will govern the country till elections happen. Any participant in the transitional government is not eligible to run in the elections. In the past week, there have been many arrests of key figures by the junta with the accusation that there was a threat to national security. The next day these individuals were released as the international community and political figures in Mali spoke out. These kinds of acts add a little uncertainty as to the junta’s role. I am not saying these individuals should not have been arrested but to play this game of catch and release not only destabilizes the community but also makes the whole thing a joke. Right now, the focus should remain on the return of governmental bodies back to a semblance of normalcy. That is what Malians want above all.

Mali has paid a heavy price for the actions of the top political figures. To begin with the “old guards” that allowed Mali to be taken advantage of in return for money/favors. Then the individuals that sat back and let it happen. And finally the junta that caused enough instability and weakness that part of Mali was lost. With the coup came change. As the rebels took over the North, many fled to escape the imposition of Sharia and also the unknown. As the junta made decisions, the international community watched as to how things would work out. Embassies pulled their non-emergency people out. Schools lost many pupils and even my son’s French school has started to look like a shanty town. European stores and restaurants saw a sharp drop in customers and hinted at the reducing expatriate population. The biggest loss however was of humanitarian NGOs that were operating in the different regions of the country. With the increasing uncertainty, many NGOs departed the Northern regions.

What I would like to say is, now more than ever, is that Mali needs all the humanitarian aid it can get. Most Malians get by on less than $1/day. Most can barely even make a $1. Today, I was approached by twin boys about 6 years old that looked no older than 4 because of their size. They came to me and told me they were hungry. My first reaction, as I looked around for their mother, was why you are out here asking for money. Where are your parents? And then I realized when parents cannot provide, then all the family are forced by their circumstances to make the little they can by begging.

I would like to send a message to all the people who read this. My message to NGOs is that Mali does have a future. They need all the help they can get. Now is not the time to abandon aid or run away. Now is the time to protect your investment and trust the Malians to stand by your side as they protect it with you. My message to aid organizations is not to let Mali down. Stay! Help the people. Continue to work in the community making a difference. Our children do need schools and teachers. The women do need to learn self-sufficiency through microenterprise and that they are strong individuals who can be part of a successful Mali. The current situation has hit the common man even more as they struggle to make ends meet. My plea to the international community is to help. Help a fellow brother, sister, mother, father and family. Do not fear that your investment will be in vain. Help because you can and because it will make a difference. Support organizations like UNHCR as they help the refugees. We can make a difference as individuals. The Malian people need your help.

Continue to keep this great nation in your prayers. Pray that they may be blessed with good leaders that put Mali’s needs first. Pray that aid organizations may continue to operate helping nurse back Mali’s failing infrastructure. Then, please spread the word about Mali and how to help. Contact your local organizations and see what they are doing to make a difference.

I am very grateful for all the wonderful support we have received and continue to receive. Mali has many friends and we are grateful that there are so many out there that do care about Mali’s present so that Mali may have a future. Thank you and may God bless all your efforts.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Small steps in the right direction

ADPS members Nouhoum Sa and Fomba watch on as Yeah exchanges a few words with Pres. Campaore

The meetings of this past weekend were a step in the right direction. Yeah and his team ADPS made sure that preserving Mali’s sovereignty was foremost as they headed to a weekend full of conferences with President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campaoré, who has been appointed the official mediator by ECOWAS. Since the first part of the ECOWAS agreement had been honored by instituting interim President of Mali Diacounda Traoré, it was essential to discuss how Mali would now move forward. Diacounda’s primary responsibility is to reunite the country by regaining Mali’s 3 lost regions. The conference was filled with 78 members representing the different stakeholders in Mali. The conference provided a stage for political parties and representatives of the civil society to discuss their views on a number of topics including the territorial integrity of Mali, the transitional authorities, the duration of the interim presidency, and the authority that will make the choice of the Prime Minister to lead that the transitional government.

I am not going to lie and say that everyone had the same expectations.  Some of the participants were under the impression that the conference would designate the PM and members of the transitional government. However, it was more important to decide logistics before suggesting and appointing people. It was honestly a nice change to see somewhat of a democracy in action as leaders discussed what would best serve Mali in terms of leadership.

Yeah advised that the current interim President should not be able to name the next Prime Minister. If given that ability, Diacounda would have the power to put someone affiliated to his political party and potentially cause unneeded bias, especially at this sensitive time. It will be important for a non-partisan body to choose the Prime Minister. The only non-partisan body at this time is the junta. Hence, that role was given them and they will be tasked with choosing the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister in turn will be responsible to lead his transitional government before elections takes place.

So who is the new PM? The new PM announced just 30 minutes ago is Cheick Modibo Diarra, Microsoft’s Africa Corporation chairman and a former NASA astrophysicist. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheick_Modibo_Diarra). He was also a Presidential candidate for the 2012 elections. This could be either good for the country or really bad. Diarra lacks the political experience having no role in the political circle but might be what is needed to bind the differing political parties and views together in a strong transitional government that can lead the country till elections.

The agenda in Burkina contain essential promises and decisions that will affect the future of Mali. I can’t believe this all started less than a month ago. Mali has seen three different Presidents (ATT, Sanogo and now Diacounda) in a matter of 27 days. Now more than ever, Mali and Malians need to feel some stability return to the country. The country looks like it’s getting back on the track of democracy. And that is the right direction!

For those interested, the agreement (translated) made and acknowledged by all parties in Burkina Faso is as follows:

SOLEMN DECLARATION PROJECT BY THE VITAL FORCES OF MALI

The Conference of Active Forces of the Republic of Mali met in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, under the auspices of His Excellency Blaise Campaoré, President of Burkina Faso, and the mediator of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the Malian crisis.

Welcoming the Framework Agreement of 6 April 2012 on the implementation of the solemn declaration of the President of the National Committee for the relief of Democracy and Restoration of the State (CNRDRE) from 1 April 2012 on the return to constitutional order;

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 »

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Past Posts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: