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Offering Malians a new option

Recently, a popular newspaper here by the name of 22 Septembre did a cover story on Yeah’s plans and hope for Mali. The article is a powerful account of what Yeah wants for all Malians and how his party PACP ( Parti pour L’Action Civique et Patriotique) wants to meet this need. I simply had to share the translated version of this:

http://maliactu.net/yeah-samake-candidat-du-pacp-a-la-presidentielle-2013-nous-sommes-venus-offrir-aux-maliens-une-nouvelle-option/

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” In souls nobly born, valor does not await the passing of years. Just born, the Party for Civic and Patriotic Action is already on the national political scene, and has the ambition to offer a new option to Malians. One of Mali emerging, in which the country’s resources are judiciously used to create real opportunities for Mali. It is this belief that drives the President and candidate of PACP Yeah Samaké, who says they “came to give Mali a new option.”

One Party, One ambition for a new Mali

The PACP, according to its candidate, came on the political spectrum to offer a new option to Malians. The option is to make this country great, in which Malians can look into the eyes of other nations.

For Yeah Samaké , the Party for Civic and Patriotic Action aims to make Mali an emerging nation. He explained that what drives this party is “to use only the resources that abound our country to create real opportunities for Mali.”

Yeah Samaké went on to say “we will do this work in the first place, through decentralization and the actual transfer of power and resources from the hands of the central government to local authorities. Strengthen the capacity of local leaders, elected officials, traditional legitimacy, religious leaders and organizations, so that they contribute to participate in development. One central government can not succeed in this job without local leaders, “he said.

The party also has a priority in education. Yeah Samaké, which already has to his credit the construction of 15 schools across the country, offers, as a priority, to build a university in each of the regional capitals of Mali. “It is necessary that each region has its university,” he said three weeks ago in Dioila. The role of women, reconciliation and improving the health board are, among other priorities that the candidate will defend under PACP.

The Party for Civic and Patriotic Action motto is Unity – Work – Progress and markings are white, yellow and green color. It is symbolized by the rising sun on a field of hope. It evokes sunrise, according to party officials, a new day for Mali. His anthem “Hopefully together to build a bright Mali.” Born in difficult conditions, the PACP has always devoted most of its resources, according to its President, to the cause of Mali.
A Charter of fundamental values

PACP is based on Malian tradition values ​​of peace and development. Its creation is a hope for all Malians and all those who at one time helped to strengthen democracy in Mali. PACP was created independently, and is open to all Malians. It wants to be a party that will focus its energy nation building through an independent, liberal and inclusive vision of the Malian nation.

Especially strong in his Union, the PACP wants to create a new force for the collection of all Malians who share ideals of peace, freedom and solidarity. “In Mali we saw during his last years a rise of mistrust in  politics. However, we believe the prominent role of parties as sincere actors, committed trainers of masses and leaders of political debates. The citizen through a party contributes to the strengthening of democratic anchorage.
We want to build a party capable of withstanding the inevitable hardships of political life, a Democratic Party that will put members at the heart of its actions every day. We believe today that no democracy can be erected in the exclusion, in breach of rights of all and without taking into account the real needs of global security.

We also believe that without the cooperation and sharing of energy, no sustainable project can not be built, let alone succeed. That is why we offer Malians to gather around the PACP in the same civic engagement. Everyone must be able to express, discuss, to develop and implement new ideas. Thus, our Charter confirms our identity, our proposed methods and defines our values. ”

Mali, in a changing world has made progress, but many challenges remain. Today some questioning is required. Constructive listening to the people is necessary. This perception is fundamental to the PACP. Accompany Malians daily to better listen to them, understand their problems and immediate needs. No national event, no political commitment can not be sustainable without taking into account the aspirations of Malians from all backgrounds. All Malians must feel close to major state decisions, this presupposes the PACP proximity, availability and communication.

We want to restore the action and make the private sector the engine of development. The development of quality human resources, protection of the environment, water control, energy development potential, sustainable land management, total up the country, the development of transport, development and modernization of telecommunications, are among others, the areas on which we intend to support sustainable development. The PACP has set goals, defined capabilities and progressively will evaluate the results achieved. PACP, while placing them in a real sense of anticipation for the renewal of Malians, wants to exceed the short term.
Work unit solidarity

With the help of God, we defend the peace, unity and progress. We want a renewal of Mali, a prosperous nation worthy of the great tradition of our ancestors. We strongly support the African Unity. Our motto is to strengthen the democratic achievements and the promotion of social welfare. We want that no one is left out because of its political, social or religious affiliation.

A worker who is committed and takes initiative deserves special attention. The dignity of work and the sense of effort worth restored. The country should be grateful to all those who at some point have made exceptional performance. Mali’s future is in innovation, we must all, dare to invent the future. National unity requires an equitable distribution of national wealth. No geographic region should feel excluded from the process of technical, economic and social empowerment.

The mobility must be managed fairly and promotion of women and youth in positions of responsibility. Moreover, the attachment to the nation, our culture, our languages, our land and defending our social system needs to be strengthened. These elements are the glue that unites us and must be recycled.

Solidarity must be a duty for all. It must be placed in all parts of society and even of public life: solidarity for access to care for the poor, solidarity around the rural world problems faced by women, for access to paid work, etc. Without solidarity there cannot be peace.”

This is what our dream for Mali is. We want a Mali that is united in a common goal and works towards the prosperity of its people. Mali can have this prosperity and more. All it needs is the right leader. A leader who is honest, who has shown action before politics. A leader who can face other world powers and raise Mali up to compete at their level. A leader who can increase the wealth of Mali simply by honestly utilizing the vast resources that Mali already has. A leader that doesn’t just eradicate corruption with punishment but rather by improving opportunities so people do not feel the need to be corrupt. A leader that focuses on better education and healthcare, two signs of a developing economy.

Yes my friends, a leader whose name is Yeah Samake. Read more about what we are trying to do and our quest to make Mali the great nation she should have been 50 years ago at http://www.samake2013.com

Also for our French speakers, our party website is http://www.pacp-mali.com

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Villages of Baga and Kandian welcome Yeah Samake

A few days back, for the first time in the history of the villages of Baga and Kandian, a presidential candidate paid them a visit. The event was historic  and the villagers turned out in droves to meet a candidate for the first time. That candidate was none other than Yeah Samake.

The Chief of the village of Baga had requested to have a face to face meeting with Yeah. To honor his request, Yeah traveled to this distant village to get the Chief’s blessing. The chief solemnly promised that all his people would vote for Yeah Samake because he was the only candidate that had taken the time to come and hear the problems and concerns in the village of Baga.

Yeah also paid a visit to the Chief of the village and the people of Kandian. The people there too were extremely surprised and very pleased that a candidate would come visit them. They stated to the PACP delegation that this was the first time a candidate had come to visit them and it was a symbol and proof that they did matter. They too promised that they would support the son of Djitimou.

Yeah is one of the only candidates that was actually born and brought up in the rural areas. So he is familiar with the conditions that 80% of Malians have lived in for the last 53 years. He understands what it means to not have enough to eat, what it means to not have a job after graduation, what it means to support a big family. Here is a candidate who understands what a majority of the Malian people are suffering from because he himself has been through all the conditions that besiege ordinary Malians.

I truly believe that Yeah is the candidate Mali needs at this critical time in its history. 50 more years of inept, corrupt government will destroy this great country beyond repair. 50 more years of bad education and pathetic healthcare will push Mali and all Malians back instead of driving them forward. Mali cannot afford failed government. Mali cannot afford an inept public system that is governed badly. Mali needs a leader who is willing to listen. A leader who has acted rather than spoken about what he will do. A leader who looks at Mali and sees the opportunity to raise a great nation, not the opportunity to become rich personally. A leader who will raise Mali so that she can look in the eyes of other African nations not bow down at their feet.

That leader is YEAH SAMAKE. Join us today as we speak up for Mali. Join us so that we can make Mali the great nation she was and the great nation she can become with good honest leadership.

Learn more about Yeah Samake and our party PACP at http://www.samake2013.com ( EN) and http://www.pacp-mali.com (FR)

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Growing support!

Today we mark the two month count down to the elections on July 7th. I am humbled at the out pouring of encouragement and support we have received since we began this journey.

I am very excited to share the latest video of Samake2013. I would like to thank the amazing talented Travis Pitcher and Joseph LeBaron at The Goodline who have yet again successfully captured the spirit of Samake2013 and the hope for a new democratic Mali. These guys are amazing. Check this video out!

This past month we have seen a growing recognition for what we are trying to accomplish in Mali. In Mali, this has meant a growing number of supporters turning up to our weekly meetings at our headquarters and many offices being created in distant regions. Many Malians are starting to seriously realize that change is needed and Yeah Samaké is the man for the job. Our growing fan base on social media and at our office on the ground is proof of that.

It does not stop there. We have had a number of news outlets including TIME cover Yeah’s story and his run for the Presidency. Just this morning Yeah was on the BBC to talk about his candidacy and why he is running to be President of Mali.

Here are some excerpts and the links to some of those News articles. We thank all these media members that have shared the Samake2013 message of hope and democracy for Mali.

TIME: As Mali Wars With Islamists, a Mormon Runs for President by Aryn Baker—“The government failed the people, so the people turned to the religious groups that filled the gaps,” Samaké says, referring to the success of Islamist militias that, for a time, occupied some of the country’s most historic cities. “Any nation that fails its people opens itself up to that kind of vulnerability, and we need to change that in Mali.” Read more

UTAH ABC4: Elections back on track: Mormon leads in race for president in African nation by Brent Hunsaker — “I am here to serve, not to take advantage of the people.” For years, Mali politicians did just that. They grew rich while the people starved. An election was seen as a license to rob. Samaké sharpened his image as a corruption fighter as mayor of Ouelessebougou. He turned around the poorest region of the poorest country and now promises to do it for all of Mali. “So that we can depend and rely on ourselves and not sit and wait for a handout. That is the Mali I see,” said Samaké.” Read the entire story

UTAH KSL5: Risking death, BYU grad confronts Malian coup leader by Stephanie Grimes and Richard Piatt — “I hope to see democracy restored. I hope to see leaders with integrity. I hope to see the people of Mali meeting their basic needs, including human rights and access to basic services, and having three meals a day and making sure education is available,” he said. “My hope is that my country would become prosperous and peaceful and that we will be more reliant on ourselves than on any external forces. That is my hope for my country.” Read the entire story

UTAH 89.1 FM THINKING ALOUD: Yeah Samaké and the Future of Mali by Michael Wyatt — Yeah Samake, an alumnus of BYU and leading candidate in the current Mali presidential election, joins Thinking Aloud to share the dramatic story of his reform efforts in his home country. Listen Here

MERIDIAN MAGAZINE: Yeah Samaké: Born for Such a Time as This by Maurine Proctor — “No education could prepare you to be the leader of a nation,” Yeah says, “but you do have to have a true and sincere sense of service. My heart is set on this people.” Read the entire story

We are thankful for the attention our story has gotten and continues to get. While much of the focus remains on our religion, that is the least of our focus. We know that religion is not what will stop us in Mali. Malians are very open and kind people. Even in Ouelessebougou, where there is a majority Muslim population like the rest of Mali, Yeah was elected Mayor with 86% of the vote. We know that the people are waiting for an honest leader who can bring change and raise Mali up to the great nation she deserves to be.

I am thankful that our supporter base only continues to grow in Mali and the world. We get supporter emails on a daily basis. I say this not to boast. I say this because we are so thankful and feel blessed for all the support. It means a lot when we hear someone say to us:”I believe in you” and “How can I help Yeah”. It means a lot when we see the youth in Mali sacrifice their weekends to campaign and attend meetings. It means a lot when we see Malians themselves donating.

We are ready. We are ready to fight for Malians everywhere so that a true democracy may be restored. A democracy that is not in name alone, but one that is demonstrated by a leader who is willing to acknowledge and meet the needs of his people. We are ready to fight for a Mali where three meals a day and at least a high school degree becomes a norm. We are ready to fight for a Mali where basic amenities like clean water and electricity become accessible in all regions. Mali does not deserve to sit in the bottom two of the world. It is time to fight for Mali and break her chains of bondage to poverty, illiteracy and poor governance. July is fast approaching and we here at Samake2013 are giving it all we got for a democratic, prosperous Mali.

Can we count on you? Together for Mali!

WWW.SAMAKE2013.COM

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Impacting Governance at the local level

On March 16th a delegation of Malian mayors and municipal leaders left hot, sweltering Mali for Utah. The goal was to attend a 3-day governance summit in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One of the key things that Yeah hopes to offer as President of Mali is further training and exchange between Malian leaders at the local level and local leaders in other countries, so that an exchange of ideas and best practices can happen. This falls in line with one of the key platform points of the Samaké campaign: decentralization of power. No one knows better how to solve the problems of the Malian people at the local level than the Malian leaders that govern them locally. By providing them the tools to make better decisions and implement different ideas, we are stretching minds to the endless possibilities that can give Malian people a better life and it all starts with educating and empowering local leadership.

The summit and the trip were made possible by a partnership between the Utah based foundation Empower Mali and Utah League of Cities and Towns. Yeah, as the Mayor of Ouelessebougou, Mali, led the delegation of local leaders. The really cool thing about this delegation is that its members hail from 5 of the 8 regions in Mali, even war torn Tombouctou.

maliregions

The delegation includes members from different political parties. It included the following members:
• Nampaga Coulibaly, Mayor, Misseni (Population: 45,000 people, Sikasso Region)
• Diarha Diarra, Mayor, Moribabougou (Population: 29,000 people, Koulikoro Region)
• Sekou Boubacar Doucoure, Mayor, Tele (Population: 2,078+ people, Tombouctou Region)
• Malik Guindo, City Council Member, Doucoumbo (Population: 13,000+ people, Mopti Region)
• Malick Keita, Mayor, N’Gabacoro (17,000+ people, Koulikoro Region)
• Ousmane Kouyate, City Manager, Ouelessebougou (Population: 44,000+ )
• Birama Traoré, Mayor, Kirané (Population: 40,000+ people, Kayes Region)
• Barakatoulahi Keita, Partnership Coordinator, Association of Malian Municipalities
• Mamadou Tangara, Mayor of Kénédougou, Sikasso City ( Population: 230,000+, Region of Sikasso)
• Delegation led by Yeah Samaké, Mayor of Ouelessebougou (Population: 44000+, Koulikoro Region)

The 3-day summit was jam packed with visits and discussions all over the state of Utah from Logan to Provo. City Councilman Carlton Christensen greeted the delegation on behalf of UCLT. The delegation also received a warm welcome at a luncheon hosted by the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah. The Mayors were impressed with the student’s commitment and involvement in government studies. Prominent figures like Mayor Mike Winder and Director of the Hinckley Institute, Kirk Jowers expressed hope that a partnership between local leaders in Utah and Mali would be solidified through this exchange. The energy was high and this was a great start to the three day summit in Utah. The delegation, despite being extremely tired and jet lagged, was excited at the endless possibilities of what they would take away from this experience during the next few days.

During the remaining days, the delegation also visited facilities like the UTA Trax Station, Sandy City Fire Department, Waste Management Transfer Station, Salt Lake Valley Landfill, Parleys Canyon Water Facility and Salt Lake City Waste Water Facility. These are all new experiences for the group. These kind of high end facilities are not available in Mali. That is not to say there is no fire, waste or police facilities in Mali. The difference is that the level of resources committed does not even begin to compare. The delegation was impressed by the organization of these facilities, especially the police station, water and waste plants. They asked many questions on how these facilities worked at a local level to handle the State’s needs. The mayors discussed the significant differences between waste and water management in Mali and waste and water management in the U.S. and what measures they can take to improve access to and quality of water and handling of waste in their own communities.

The delegation also had a unique opportunity to visit with the Sandy City, South Jordan and Ogden City councils. This gave them the opportunity to compare these councils and their functions against similar councils in their own regions. Each of these mayors works together with the city council in Mali in their respective regions to determine things like budget and requirements within the city limits. So it was nice to see some similarity of a process and observe how things are done in the US vs. Mali. The delegation also met with the African representative Franz Kolb at the Utah Office of Economic Development and Lew Cramer, President of the World Trade Center. The key topic of discussion was how to realistically implement a partnership between the cities in Utah and the cities represented by the delegation.

A good starting point was determined to be via the school systems in Utah and the primary schools in their cities. The delegation was pleased and impressed by the discussion and with the prospect of business partnerships between cities in Mali and cities in Utah.

The trip to Utah also included a visit to beautiful Temple Square. The delegation had a meeting with Elder Robert Gay of the Quorum of the Seventy of the LDS Church. Elder Gay is in charge of employment, education, and new business startups worldwide. At this meeting, they discussed the role of the Church in helping young people to find work after they have graduated. Elder Gay also emphasized that if education is only in the cities then the youth will come to the cities and never go back to the villages. The organization Unitus that Elder Gay helped start up is in the process of building apps that can be used on tablets and phones to help educate individuals in the rural villages. They are also focusing on water innovation in rural areas, primarily in Africa. Elder Gay asked the delegation to send him an official invitation to Mali to for his education application pilot program. The group also visited Welfare Square where they looked in amazement at the scale of services offered to the needy through the thrift store and employment program.

The final high note was a visit to none other than Costco. It is amazing the things we take for granted. Seeing so much food and items in one place can be overwhelming. The delegation loved it! I remember Yeah telling me when he first went to Costco back in 1999 when he first went the US, the feeling of awe that went through him and the realization that all the food there could help feed his own people back home.

All the delegation members wished the trip in Utah could go on longer so that they could see more and learn more. That is definitely something we will implement next year when we invite yet another batch of municipal leaders and mayors to come to Utah and other parts of the US for an exchange. The delegation was pleased with the trip and spoke of plans to act on what they had seen and learned, particularly in regards to partnerships.

I am thankful to all the wonderful people in Utah who helped with the delegation, especially the Utah League of Cities and Towns for arranging the meetings, the Empower Mali Foundation for arranging everything on the Mali side, our volunteers who translated and helped where they could, Jen Leahy our amazing photographer and Brett Van Leeuwen who kindly arranged lodging for all the delegation members in beautiful Alpine, Utah. It is support like this that makes what we do a possibility. We are grateful for your support!

The delegation is currently in NYC where they had the opportunity to visit the United Nations and the current Ambassador of Mali to the US Al-Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita. Also NYC hosts a strong population of Malians. The delegation was excited to meet with and mingle with many members there. The Malians in NYC showed great hospitality to the delegation, a tradition not forgotten or absolved of even though they are many miles away from Mali. The Malian delegation will return back to Mali this week.

It is opportunities like these that will empower our local leaders to effect change in their own communities. Yeah has often said: “A mind once stretched can never go back”. Yeah, through his public policy education at Brigham Young University, Utah has learned many things about governance. He has been able to apply the things that will work and has moved Ouelessebougou from the bottom 10 cities in Mali to one of the top five cities in terms of development and transparency. He talked last year with the Sutherland Institute about how his education has helped him . You can watch that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8nFS7AwrpU

It is essential that leaders be given the opportunity to see the endless possibilities and then pick and choose what will work to better their communities’ lives and livelihood. We want Mali to be a strong nation with a prosperous people. It is for that reason that we create opportunities like these. We hope that through these conferences and summits, that we can affect change at the local level. It is a possibility that can be made a reality with the right kind of leadership and implementing the right processes for change. Ouelessebougou, Mali is proof of that and the track record of Yeah Samaké displays that he is the leader of good, honest change and can make Mali a great nation.

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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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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!

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Civilian rule continues unharmed

Amidst the dust storms that settled over Bamako, there came news mid evening that gunfire was being reported in the vicinity of the news station ORTM and Kati (the military barracks). ORTM has been at the heart of Mali history in the making for the last month and a half. The first coup happened at ORTM. So what exactly was going on? The loyalists to the deposed president Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT) were reported to have joined forces with foreign fighters to try to defeat the junta and reclaim ORTM. It was interesting to note the changing news stories in the first few hours as journalists reported how first the junta was in control and then the loyalist forces and then the junta again. Interesting because it showed an uncertainty of the rapidly developing situation. The loyalists are known as the Red Berets and are the personal bodyguard of the President, very similar to the Secret Service. It is also interesting to note that when the coup first happened on March 21st, there were reports of the Red Berets launching a counterstrike, but then junta leader Sanogo had come on TV with the Red Berets and said that they were all one and fighting for the same cause.

The Red Berets and junta show a united from on ORTM (March 22)

So why the sudden change of heart? It would be pointless to re-institute ATT as President given his term was essentially done as of April 29th and that most Malians are fed up with his lack luster leadership over the last year. To put ATT in office would essentially cause a lot more trouble than is worth and even ATT, given his recent fleeing to Senegal does not seem willing to put his life on the line. So why now? The past week has seen a number of decisions made by ECOWAS and the interim President Diacounda regarding the length before elections, which has been set at 12 months, Diacounda’s term possibly being extended to 12 months and the deployment of ECOWAS troops in Mali. This has caused some consternation among the junta as the extension of Diacounda’s term is a violation of the Mali constitution and the junta in no way was part of this new agreement which goes against the framework agreement of April 6th. In addition, the junta and most Malians do not want foreigners fighting on Malian soil. What they want is weaponry, logistics and supplies that can help guide their efforts in the North of the country. Today, there was to be a meeting between the junta and ECOWAS to discuss these things. However, yesterday evening, tensions flared first as the student association AEEM attacked the radio station run by Oumar Mariko, a junta loyalist. Red Berets stormed ORTM with the hopes of defeating the junta and soon reports were swirling around about the Berets having taken over ORTM and the airport. As we reached midnight, nothing seemed clear. Reports claimed 14 junta and Red Berets were dead and 40 injured.

This morning, I woke up to rumbling thunder. In the first moments I thought it was gunfire, but then realized that the rain was coming to wash away the bad dust storm that has captured the city. No new news has been reported and in my opinion, no news is sometimes good news. Sanogo came in a recorded broadcast and spoke to the Malian people this evening. He advised that certain foreign militia had teamed up with the Red Berets to try to stage a mutiny against the junta. Sanogo told the Malian people not to worry and that all was well. He was firm and said that none of the governments that have been installed are in danger. They remain and Mali continues to be ruled in effect by an interim President Diacounda, a Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra and the transitional government of 24 members. Sanogo has advised his job is to ensure Mali and Malians remain safe and that the seat of government should not fall. Yeah also called Prime Minister Diarra early this morning to ensure his safety and the safety of the government as the situation developed. There were also rumors swirling about ECOWAS troops being in Ouelessebougou, which Yeah quickly dispelled. The Prime Minister, encouraged Yeah to spread a message to all American leaders he was meeting with. His position is that what happened on March 21st was a mutiny (and not a coup) against a corrupt government and that stability has been restored with an interim President and civilian transitional government. It is the hope of PM Diarra that countries like America will understand that the aid they have continued to suspend is a hard blow to the innocent civilians that need it most. It is the hope that this aid will be restored so Mali can recover quickly.

As it stands now, the airport, ORTM and other key areas are under the junta’s protection. They have also taken over the Red Berets Djicoroni camp. The airport has been shut down not only due to the bad visibility but now the fighting. There are reports of flights operating on the 4th of May. Also, a large amount of guns, grenades and missiles have been confiscated from these armed groups.

The junta has successfully quashed two counter-strikes now and in a way has shown their ability to protect Mali from further falling. Their inabilities in the North are attributed to ATT who never prepared his army to fight an insurgency. All the weaponry provided by the Western governments is rumored to have never reached the soldiers. Sending troops without arms into battle would be sending them to an early grave and risking the lives of 100K people in the region. To many Malians, the junta is their hero, having saved them from being marginalized further by a corrupt, ineffective government.

My two cents. It makes no sense why the Red Berets would launch a counter offensive. It might just be militia trying to make the most of the uncertain times in Mali. That is why it is important now more than ever for Malians to stand up for their country and unite in the face of rebellion. No use turning the clock back. I guess call me the optimist, but Mali is heading in the right direction with the objective being the installation of a leader that will resolve the countries bigger issues like education, the economy and the healthcare system. For now, it will be essential to protect the semblance of the government in place so that calm may be re-established and that the needful may be done like restoring Mali’s territorial integrity. We need to live in the moment. We have to make the most of what has happened and help build a strong foundation upon which Mali’s democracy may grow.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Elections planned

Crazy "lovable" kids

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

One of many meetings with community leaders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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