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Interim President of Mali returns to Mali with new plan

As the world was finally starting to sit up and pay attention to Mali’s strife in the North, its interim President, Dioncounda Traore, who had been wounded by pro-coup attackers on May 21st returned to the South after a two month stay in Paris during which he received treatment for head injuries. During his absence the Prime Minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, has attempted to resolve the crisis in the North.

The Northern situation has become worse with Islamic rebels asserting outright Sharia law and almost imprisoning Malians in the North into their way of life. Their crackdown has caused even more Malians to flee the North increasing the refugee count. Just earlier this weekend, a man and woman accused of committing adultery were stoned to death in the northern town of Aguelhok. I wonder, what is the price to pay for murder?

Yeah has been working tirelessly to raise the world’s attention on Mali’s strife and the humanitarian crisis. He has been meeting with leaders at the UN and also those in US that are over Africa’s foreign policy. To shed fresh media coverage on Mali, Yeah assisted CNN’s Erin Burnett and her team with visas, contacts, and travel plans so that they could bring a larger attention on the refugee situation and the human tragedy happening in Mali. You can view Erin’s coverage at: http://outfront.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/24/why-mali-matters-al-qaeda-on-the-rise/. Yeah has remained a supporter of PM Diarra’s government and is adamant that now is not the time to put in a new government and delay any solution for Mali’s unity. As President of PACP, he has cautioned fellow politicians that no further delays should happen to hamper Mali’s return to democracy. It is time for the politicians in Mali to get over self interests and support the government.

The world is finally starting to sit up and notice the struggles in Mali. Most recently the US had staunchly opposed interfering. However on July 26th, Michael Sheehan, the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for special operations, said that they cannot allow Al-Qaeda to exist unchecked.  Even France that had maintained its distance has showed concern over the unchecked Al-Qaeda movements in Northern Mali. It’s amazing it had to come to this for the world to notice Mali. And even then, it’s not even about the lives being destroyed. I understand that each government concerns itself with what will be beneficial to its national interests. However, we might not even be in this position however if the first foreign interference mistakes were not made with Libya.  There is talk about a 3000-strong army made up of mainly Malians and military forces from Niger, with logistical support from the US and France. But if we continue talk, the North as we knew it may not exist. Already monuments have been destroyed, people have fled. What next before something actually gets done?

The attack on Dioncounda worked more in his favor than anything. He was not looked upon favorably as he was believed to be part of the old guard that had allowed ATT to rule unchecked. However the attack on him became to Malians an attack on Malian culture and traditions.  Attacking a 70-year old man, no matter what he has done, is simply not acceptable culturally. In an address to the nation, Dioncounda spoke vehemently of his forgiveness to his attackers. He focused his speech on how Mali must move forward to regain its territory and people.  He urged the Malian people to focus on how Mali can regain its territorial integrity. Dioncounda, spoke with urgency, that partners like the US and France cannot become enemies. This is interesting as many Malians regard former colonizer France with a degree of suspicion and even believe that they may have been responsible for supporting the rebel Tuaregs in the first place. Dioncounda called on all Malians to pay back their debt to Mali and become part of the solution.  And that Mali must move on stronger and unified. He then moved on to propose a transition plan.

The proposed plan outlines the following amendments to the agreement made between the coup leaders and ECOWAS.  In his speech Dioncounda outlined them as follows:

“In order to complete the institutional architecture to better suit the socio-political realities, the tasks of the transition, in the spirit of Article 6 of the Accord-cadre agreement, I propose:

1. High State Council (HCE) composed of the President of the Republic and two Vice-Presidents assist the President in carrying out the tasks of the transition.

— One of the Vice-Presidents represent the forces of defense and security and as such he will chair the Military Committee followed the Reform of the Defense Forces and the Security and take care of all military matters relating to Northern Mali;
–The other Vice-President shall represent the other components of the kinetic energies of the nation.

2. Government of National Unity: where are represented all parts of the Forces Vives.

Consultations leading to its formation will be led by the President of the Republic.

3. National Transition Council (CNT) with an advisory and comprising representatives of political parties present or not in the National Assembly and representatives of civil society.

It will be led by Vice-President representing the military services.

4. National Commission for Negotiations (CNN): meets the wishes of Heads of State of ECOWAS formulated in paragraph 18 of the final communication of the second meeting of the contact group on Mali.

This commission will engage with the armed movements in northern Mali peace talks in connection with the ECOWAS mediator to search through dialogue, negotiated political solutions to the crisis.

5. Motion in the direction of ECOWAS (the African Union and United Nations) based on the findings of the mission which visited recently in Bamako.

The Vice Presidents shall be appointed and the National Council of Transition (CNT) will be established as soon as possible and in any case within two weeks following the implementation of the Government of National Unity.

Furthermore it is understood that neither the President nor the Prime Minister nor the Ministers will participate in the next presidential election.” Will these restrictions also apply to the Vice Presidents, given they will play an important role in the transitional process?

The interesting thing about his address to the nation is the current Prime Minister was not mentioned in it. Why is this interesting? During the entire time from when Dioncounda was attacked to the time he was flown to Paris for treatment, PM Diarra has stood by Dioncounda, calling on people to let the political process play out. In fact, it could probably be attributed to him that Mali did not erupt into a civil war when the attack on Dioncounda happened. So it is interesting that he is not mentioned or acknowledged for the work that he has been doing. There is dissent among some of older political class in Mali that Diarra has been slow in getting the country back on track. Much of the dissent is coming from Dioncounda’s own party, ADEMA, which feels that they should be involved as much as possible in the running of the country. Many believe Diarra to be the coup’s puppet given that he has been appointed by the coup and also 3 major positions are held by the coup leaders.

However, now is not the time to play political games. Every day that these dissenters choose to make it harder for Diarra to operate, what they are doing is not just harming him, but more importantly, they are delaying a resolution to bring Malians much needed relief.  At this time national unity needs to become evident rather than just a song being sung. Even with Dioncounda, it is hard to say what will happen next. Given this address, it is hard to see where the PM will fit in and how all the political forces will indeed coordinate to create a stable, unified front. Without a strong base in the South, it will be hard for the army to follow a steadfast course. What Mali needs now more than ever is a government that sticks together and shows that Mali’s needs surpasses their own partisan interests. Additionally, Mali’s neighbors have given Mali a deadline of July 31st to create a unity government or risk facing sanctions again.  This seems unlikely at this point, but Dioncounda’s plan is a step in the right direction to make that happen. If what Dioncounda says is true, now that he is back, he could be the binding force that is needed as he shows that he is willing to coordinate with the coup leaders choices of leadership.  ECOWAS has been prompt at adding ten more days to the deadline to allow Dioncounda Traoré enough room for negotiations.

Elections have been set for May. Items to be resolved remain: checking out the rebels, restoring order in the North, bring home the refugees and holding elections. At the end of the day, a speech is all well and good, but actions speak louder than words and the question remains, can Dioncounda and Diarra pull it off for the greater good of Mali.  It remains clear, given Dioncounda’s return, that Malians will expect remarkable progress in the near future from these leaders.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Calm returns to the South while the North Struggles

This past week has passed in relative calm. The capital has almost gotten back to normal and one would find it hard to believe that a coup ever happened. The junta seems to have backed down completely and it’s probably the sweet deal that Sanogo got for himself that is keeping him quiet. However, I am quite surprised other members of the 500-strong junta have remained quiet, which lends to believe that either Sanogo was really the undisputable leader or the rest of the junta is getting something as well that has been undisclosed. Dioncounda remains in Paris and is supposed to return sometime this week. Life continues in much the same way as it did before. Prime Minister Diarra is attempting to fill his role as leader of the country. He has a great responsibility and many are relying on him to push Mali back on track. Yeah had met with him last week to discuss ideas and solutions on how to get Mali’s issues of leadership addressed as well as the issue in the North. Yeah’s take is that without strong leadership and a plan in the South of the country where the government is based, the North’s issues cannot be resolved.

Last week Yeah also gave an exclusive interview to the well known newspaper L’Independent in Mali where he talked of the struggles in Mali. He advised that Mali should not accept ECOWAS troops on Mali’s soil killing Mali’s people in the North. The solution has to be bred on Mali’s soil. Also Yeah encouraged ECOWAS to work with the political class in Mali. With the issue in the North, Yeah said that it is important to involve well off neighbors like Algeria and Mauritania because ECOWAS does not have the logistics and money to support troops despite them wanting to send troops to Mali. Also the stakes are higher for these countries because if rebels/terrorists overflow across their borders, it could cause instability for them. You can read the entire interview here in English: http://samake2012.com/updates/2012/05/interview-with-malian-newspaper-lindependent/#more-1296 or here in French: http://www.maliweb.net/news/interview/2012/05/28/article,69486.html

For the most part, people are just watching and waiting to see what the non-partisan Diarra will do. As I have said before, as long as their leaders don’t make things worse, Malians will put up with it. Diarra seems to be a calming force amidst the chaos. Malians seem to actually heed his words. For the first time yesterday on National TV, he spoke to Segou soldiers on the issue in the North of the country. “I have always said that I do not support war, because it’s war that makes a child an orphan and it’s war that makes a woman a widow. But if we love our country, we must liberate it even if it’s through war, a war that will end the daily wars. A war that will open the door for peace and security because without peace we cannot have security and without security, there will be no prosperity for this nation,” the PM said. He spoke with the most passion and conviction than I have ever seen him have. He talked of how Mali would not concede any part of its land to the rebels. Talk is all well and good. The thing that is most concerning is that Mali currently does not have an equipped army. The 7000-strong army that is reported by statistics websites like CIA may be correct as far as man count. However, the fact remains that the army lacked the arms before the coup and they continue to lack the arms. To send them into the North without the equipment would be like signing their death sentence. Apparently, Western countries, especially America had given ATT a lot of arms and vehicles to fight off the rebels before the coup. Rumor has it that ATT sold or gifted much of this to the rebels themselves when they initially came over to Mali after Libya’s Gaddhafi fell. There are no reports one way or the other to corroborate the story. Fact remains; the army is defenseless and has the manpower but not the equipment to fight.

What Mali needs immediately is strong leadership in the south that has a plan on how to re-unite the country and ultimately gain back the territories in the North. The Tuaregs are a minority and not even they are in control right now. Control seems to be shared between Ansar Dine, MUJAO, AQIM and MNLA, all terrorist factions. So while the South seems to be gaining some control, the North is struggling with a terrorist problem and a refugee issue.

UNICEF despite increasing the aid it is providing has been warning about the sanitary conditions at the camps as well as the demand outweighing the supply. Ultimately, it will be the women and children that will bear the brunt of this refugee crisis. This refugee crisis started with the drought but has been intensified by the crisis in Mali. The problem has been overlooked long enough as the world’s attentions focused in South Bamako. In addition governments of Mauritania, Algeria, Senegal and Burkina Faso also have to deal with the refugees that fled across the border. One country’s crisis is becoming West Africa’s dilemma. This is just one big mess and it needs the international community to bring light to the growing humanitarian crisis. On the other hand there are terrorist groups operating freely in the North. They are restricting aid and making life very hard for residents by imposing Sharia law. There have also been reports that they are damaging World Heritage sites in Tombouctou that have been around for centuries. Imagine the destruction of the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal. As an Indian, I would be angered if anything happened to a symbol of my culture. Even the youth of the North have mobilized themselves, fed up with the lack of leadership from Bamako.

Finally, given ECOWAS’ failed track record to help bring civilian rule to Mali, ECOWAS has designated a new representative from the country of Benin. Let’s hope the new leadership will not bully Mali and cause more issues.

Strong leadership first will allow Mali to resolve this crisis and attempt to resolve the growing issue in the North. The question remains, will Prime Minister Diarra be that stabilizing force that Mali desperately needs and will ECOWAS finally include all political forces in Mali rather than enforcing their will.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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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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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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A Deal reached ending Sanctions: political aftermath

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

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

Our Mali divided

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

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

Mali's various ethnicities

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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ADPS: A solution from within

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the governing principles of ADPS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Kidal Falls

A landlocked country, sanctions could mean devastating economic trouble

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

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

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

Wall Street Journal: The displaced and fleeing numbers

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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