Tag Archives: pacp

A week of calm

This past week has been calm and Bamako continues to remain quiet after the drama of a few weeks back. The President continues to remain MIA while the Prime Minister continues to try to assert his presence. He does seem to have a lot of opposition from many bigger political parties. The reason is probably because his cabinet that he has picked does not include any political players from these parties. The North remains heavy on many Malians minds. More and more reports are emerging about the rebel players in the North and there seems to be a uncertainty about how the government will be handling the rebel groups. The government has not displayed a straightforward plan despite the talk of the PM that Mali would not give away the land in the North.

Most expat hang outs remain deserted which confirms the belief that many foreigners have indeed left the country. This will have some serious impacts on the economy as many workers/vendors find themselves without the more well off expats.

On the home front, things are well. The kids continue to get used to the changing weather. It has indeed become very hot and despite the increase in the summer showers, the heat is never far off. Electricity remains as iffy as ever with power shortages frequent and long. Just last week we spent two nights without electricity. Kean is doing wonderful in school and I am so proud of him. To help with the challenge of the language we have hired a tutor to help Keanen and me learn French. I wish I had the brain of a child. I can tell you Keanen is making leaps and bounds in French. He continuously surprises me when he chatters to his friend or teacher in French. I have no idea why the French cannot stick in my head. You would think it would be easier given that I know other languages. But no, it continues to remain foreign to me. The local language Bambara is much easier to pick up and something I can comfortably get by in. Hopefully, the tutor will be able to drill the French in.

Yeah continues to be busy as ever as Mayor, Director and PACP leader. This past week, there was an inauguration ceremony by the Mayor’s office to donate a hearse to the Ouelessebougou cemetery. As black as this sounds, this will allow the transportation of bodies in a dignified manner. Ouelessebougou is fast becoming a modern city already boasting amenities like running water, electricity and its own bus facilities.

The first hearse in Ouelessebougou

The Imam of Ouelessebougou’s mosque thanks the Mayor’s office for this donation

Party activities continue on a weekly basis as well. Despite the political dilemma Mali finds itself in, PACP membership grows. Their main support comes from the youth and also from individuals like Yeah that are foreign educated and have returned home to Mali. Last week, there was a donation of rice to the residents of Ouelessebougou that were going through difficult times.

In addition, Yeah continues to work at his foundation MRF. There are two more schools planned for this year. Mali’s education system is struggling at the secondary and higher levels. These schools provide opportunities in villages where children might otherwise not be able to go to school. Just this past week, MRF was honored at The Week of the Students of Social Work in Bamako on June 7th, 2012. The event was held at the Institut National de Formation des Travailleurs Sociaux ( School of Social Work). The theme of the 8th edition of this event was on the humanitarian accomplishments and the guest of honor was the MRF. Yeah, as director, gave a presentation to introduce these students of social work to the importance of activities of a non profit in the field in Mali and encouraged them to work with organizations like this that impact the grassroots level and have the Government’s support. This event, which got media attention in Mali, highlights MRF’s growing importance in the educational and humanitarian arena as well as its visibility in Mali.

A few students of the School of Social Work

Yeah speaks about MRF ‘s work in Mali

All in all a quiet week and an even quieter weekend. Can’t complain about that can we 🙂

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Posted by on June 9, 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: or here in French:,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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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
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Past Posts


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Personal thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Past Posts


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends of Mali Trust

472 East 4380

North Provo, Utah 84604

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

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

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


Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Past Posts


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Getting Democracy back on Track


The past week has been an eye opener to not take things for granted. A democracy that had become the beacon and lesson for other countries in Africa was pulled to its feet. As the world watched, a coup led by junior army officers brought down the soldier of democracy himself, Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT).

Much of the Western world has responded in addition to the surrounding African countries requesting a swift return to democracy. The US, EU and ECOWAS have issued sanctions and in some cases threatened them if democracy does not return. So why is democracy so important? Democracy is a relatively fresh concept for many Africans and even at that those countries that have democracies and have elected leaders, eventually find themselves distanced from the very leaders that they put in power. Democracy which entails the formation of policies and determination of state’s role becomes a hard sell in general for so called young African democracies that do not see an exchange of this sort at the local level. In order for democracy to succeed and truly be embraced, leaders need to involve their constituents in running the government. Constituents need to see how laws passed affect them at a local level. For democracy to succeed, local participation should not only be hoped for, it is essential.

Mali had been a democracy for 20 years. The one thing that weakens a democracy like no other is when there is a vast difference between the elite that make the rules and the majority of Malians. Mali has been independent for 52 years, but has seen little improvement in healthcare, education and the poverty standards. Despite an influx of NGOs, unless the Malian government takes a personal stance literacy will stagnate at 46%. 1 doctor will continue to serve 20000 people. The average life expectancy will remain 52 years—almost 30 years shorter than the average Westerner. A huge percentage of the population will continue to live below the international poverty line of 1.25USD a day. The biggest challenge remains the institutions that have been created to resolve these issues. In addition, while great foreign investments have happened in terms of infrastructure, Mali has seen little investment to enhance its primary strength in the agricultural field. 70% of Malians work in agriculture; however, changing climate and the demand on food has made Mali very dependent on importing a majority of its food. More investments need to be made to make Mali self-sustainable and profitable in the agricultural arena.

The new leader will have a plateful of challenges.

  1. Teaching a man to fish: Education needs to be an important part of a new Mali. Today with 46% of the population literate, Mali has very few Bachelor degree holders and even fewer Master degree holders. Very few PhD holders will ever return to Mali because of the lack of opportunity. The new leader will need to increase the number of schools in the rural areas; pay teachers better and make education mandatory. Today, children are favored to work in the fields rather than in the classroom because the first option yields an income for the family. By providing incentives to children and their parents to enroll in school as well as making schools accessible, education can become a reality for many Malian students. Yeah hopes to build 1000s more schools as soon as he comes into office as well as hiring more teachers. He hopes that each region will have its own university and that the strikes that have ravaged the educational systems since 2009 can be resolved with better pay and more investment in the student’s future.
  2. The healthcare situation in Mali is despicable. The average Malian finds healthcare unaffordable and unreachable. With the life expectancy very low and the death from preventable diseases very high, Yeah hopes to build hospitals in every region. Ouelessebougou will have its first hospital in the area that will house a maternity center, pharmacy and eye/dental center. In addition, it will be important to make Mali a safe haven for medical expeditions that come to serve the people of Mali. Through our years we have been blessed to meet many giving hearts and hands and we hope that they will continue to come and bless the people that need it most in Mali.
  3. Jobs: Malian people are not asking for a handout. No one likes to beg and Malians are no exception. However, circumstances currently do not give much choice and it is hard to pass a street without seeing a hoard of hungry children or a mother with a baby on her back and another two in her hands. An important task will be to create jobs for the individuals graduating and also those in the unemployed middle class. Mali’s unemployment is gauged around 30% and is evident in the streets where young men sit hoping that opportunity knocks. Yeah has been able to create jobs with the hospital, school and solar panel field. Also with the cotton plant reopening in Ouelessebougou, 100 more individuals have a paycheck.
  4. A security issue: The north is becoming more and more an Al-Qaeda battle ground. The issue of sovereignty has existed for a few centuries with the Tuareg feeling unappreciated and unaccounted for in a government they elected. The only reason Al Qaeda stands a chance in Mali is that our youth are desperate for opportunities. Normally our people are not prone to radicalization. The Tuaregs in the North believe they have been marginalized—that the government is not serving them.
  5. All these things can only be instituted if you have a government that is not riddled by corruption and institutions that are run effectively and efficiently. Many current government institutions are riddled with inefficiencies and bureaucracy.

Democracy is not lost. This is evident in the opinion polls where 74.5 % prefer democracy to any other regime type. However it has been hit hard in Mali. More than half of Malians feel that government has not served its purpose. Malians for the most part believe government is there to make their lives better. Lives have not gotten better.

Once the immediate security threat of MNLA is crushed, it will be important to start creating stability for our Northern brothers and sisters and also creating opportunities in the North for the refugees displaced by all the fighting. Then it will be important to return to the democratic process and allow Malians to truly choose their candidate unbiased by money and favors.

I truly believe that Malians need a leader with a vision. I truly believe that they need young blood that has been untainted by lives lost and the people’s money stolen. I believe the people of Mali will find a leader who cares in Yeah Samake. Yeah has been distraught over the current crisis that has gripped Mali. Today he told me:” My heart is crying for my country”. I hope that the leaders that are running the country today will work with the international community to end the Northern rampage of MNLA. I hope that international organizations will not forget my people suffering the North. I hope and pray that democracy will be restored temporarily with an interim government and then with free and fair elections. But most of all, I hope Mali will get the leader it so desperately needs that can show his people that there is hope and that Mali can be a great country not made great by foreign aid but by Malians themselves.

Democracy can be and will be restored. Make your voice heard at Support Samake for Democracy!


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Posted by on March 31, 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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The crisis deepens

The last 24 hours have seen a string of events.

Yesterday, Yeah was interviewed by PRI The World ( on his thoughts on how Mali should move forward after the coup. Take a listen:

The junta introduced the new constitution on National TV. They had disbanded a 20-year old constitution when they took power a week ago. The 69-article constitution includes many of the guarantees of the former law, including the guarantees of free speech, liberty of movement and freedom of thought. New measures include the creation of a military-led council headed by Sanogo. It says that the new head of state is simultaneously the head of the army, the head of the government and the head of the judiciary. The middle and final sections set out the role of the military committee now controlling the country, which calls itself the National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State. The new constitution says that the committee will be made up of 26 soldiers or police and 15 civilians. Those asked to serve on the committee will receive immunity and cannot be tried at a later time. This leads to concerns of some of the “old guards” (those that have embezzled money), could be asked to serve on the committee and never be tried for stealing from Mali. ( Also there was no talk of when a new election would be held in this constitution.

Also, this morning, there was a press conference to introduce the Alliance des Démocrates Patriotes pour la Sortie de la Crise (ADPS) or Democratic Patriots for the end of the Crisis. Yeah had organized 12 other political parties that hold 5 other presidential candidates into a unified front, which condemned the coup, and called for the restoration of democracy. The plan which was unveiled on National TV today, calls for an interim civilian government whose main duties will be to restore the constitutional democracy of Mali, a resolution of the Northern crisis and the organization of the elections. Also this body will work with international organizations to remove all sanctions against Mali. The body which will be composed of 30 members will have 7 members from the military, 18 members from the political parties and 5 from civil society.  The plan takes into account the legitimate concerns of restoring democracy and addressing the core concerns of the rebellion. The hope is that Sanogo will keep good on his promise to restore democracy.Details of the proposition can be found in French at:

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It was interesting to watch the developments of several protests that were organized. There were clashes between protesters that supported the junta and those that are against the junta. Tires were burned and rocks thrown between the two sides. These protests in part show that the democratic will of the people is still alive and well. However there is the hope that these clashes will not get out of hand.

Ecowas Protest ( Reuters)

At one point, these protesters stormed into the airport and ran on the tarmac causing security concerns to the plane of Presidential leaders of ECOWAS, and preventing them from landing. ECOWAS leaders were on their way to meet the leaders of the military coup and discuss ways on which democracy could be restored. For the past week, this same group has condemned the coup and threatened Mali with economic sanctions and locking up the borders it shares thereby preventing the transfer of goods. To be honest, if this group of African leaders had not rushed in this situation hot headed and trying to strong arm a country, I feel they would have received a better reception. Its third grade playground tactics. No one likes the bully and in this case the Malian people were saying they did not appreciate the bullying and to back off. If these leaders had invested some time in studying the situation at hand and reaching out to these leaders to see how a diplomatic solution could be reached, such a situation might not have happened. The result is Mali has now had economic sanctions placed on her and all her neighbor’s borders will been locked down in 72 hours if power is not relinquished. So what does this mean for Mali if these sanctions do go through? In actuality, this could be very bad for the 15 million Malians. Mali imports almost all of its gas from neighboring Ivory Coast. In addition, all of its banks would be on lock down as the central government will not transfer money to any Malian commercial accounts making it impossible to withdraw money. Also Mali that imports much of its food will find food prices shoot up as demand goes up and the supply reduces food stores present within the country. The devastating thing is that this will cause a lot more harm on the individual level before it even makes an impact on the government in place. Sanctions don’t effect governments, they affect individuals. The next 72 hours will help spell Mali’s fate. The refugees that find themselves in already desperate situations down north will only be pushed into a further desperation as remaining food sources become inaccessible.

While the issues in the South play out, in the North, MNLA is making its own advances. Now the town of Kidal finds itself surrounded by MNLA. Kidal is an essential town and if lost would mean a huge defeat for the Malian army where confidence is already low. The situation is dire as MNLA is attacking from the north while fighters from an allied Islamist group, Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), were leading an offensive from the south. Once this town is taken, Gao and Tombouctou seem next on the agenda. Once MNLA has access to the Northern region, it will not be long before the area is turned into pre-9/11 Afghanistan.

Currently, Malian citizens do not feel that their government served them.  They have felt helpless and marginalized by previous administrations and so now they find themselves turning to the junta that have removed the very government that has taken so much from them. The Malian people have been led by bad governance for so long. Suddenly, here is a leader that came in and overthrew a bad ruler. Not to romanticize it, but in the mind of some Malians, the junta are seen as Saviors and these Malians want them to remain in power to resolve the corruption and Northern issues that plague the country. From where I am, I feel like these young military soldiers did not mean the country harm and the coup was far from a planned event. Sanogo has started to grow into his role as the new President, but his inexperience shows. How can you not secure an airport when you know a delegation of Presidents is entering your airspace? How can MNLA continue their advance when the issues of the North were one of the very things that caused the coup? How can Sanogo allow the number of refugees to grow while he traverses the country visiting imams and individuals that strengthen his image as the caring leader?

Support the prompt return to democracy in Mali. Support our leaders as they attempt to work with current leaders to propose a long-term solution to the problem. The solution needs to come from within.


Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Past Posts


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Coup d’état in Mali: What comes next?


This past week has been a testament of how nothing should be taken for granted and how quickly things can change in a blink of an eye. This past week has seen the fall of a stable democracy, the removal of a President, the institution of a military government, pandemonium, a return to calm and restored stability. For me on a personal level, I have witnessed firsthand changes. For one, the goal that we have worked so hard to achieve for the last year has been pushed. April 29th was supposed to be Election Day in Mali, when the voice of the people would be heard. That has now been pushed and there is no date set when the elections will happen. It was comforting to see the outpouring of love we received from the four corners of the globe and we were touched by the kind words of faith and encouragement. So what does these events that crash landed mean for the fate of Mali and that of the Samake2012 campaign?

Mali is at a critical time in its history. While the coup is said and done, now is not the time to go back. For one, to contemplate the scenario, what would be achieved by restoring the power to Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT) that the EU, AU and the US have called for? To give back power to ATT would mean showing support for the irresponsible handling of the Northern war and the way that our troops have been treated. There is no doubt among the Malian people who ATT has handled the security situation in the North poorly. Nothing has been done to stop the atrocities happening in the Northern regions of Tombouctou, Kidal and Gao. In fact these regions have seen an increase in the illegal trafficking – including drugs, weapons, migrants, cigarettes and Western hostages. We could have stopped the remnants of Gaddafi’s army long before lives were lost. However, nothing was done to stop them from crossing our borders and bringing in firepower that has made them extremely hard to defeat. They joined a pre-existing Tuareg protest movement, the National Movement of Azawad (MNA), a group of young activists which denounced the regime’s management of northern Mali allegedly based on its alliances with corrupt local political elites and a racketeering arrangement with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). MNA leaders elaborated the political platform of what would become the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA). To give back power to ATT means to allow this terrible management of a crisis to go on. What do we do about the 175,000+ people who are displaced? What had ATT done to help them or make sure no additional harm came to them? What continues to happen that will help them? “Up to now aid agencies have not had great access to these areas… It’s hard to sell this crisis, it’s quite forgotten,” says Helen Caux, West Africa communications head at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Really? How can we allow an inhumane crisis like this to continue?

We now need to move forward. Do the leaders of the National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State have a solution? Patriotism and dissolution of a non functioning government only takes you so far. Do they have a way to resolve the issues in the North? How do they propose to restore the government and end corruption? These are questions for the political leaders as military leaders do not have the political know how or training to answer them.  We need to form a unified front of leaders that can appeal to the military leaders and provide them with a proposal on how a government can be instituted temporarily until free and fair elections can be held. In addition, now is not the time for sanctions or aid to be withdrawn. A country whose GDP is so heavily dependent on foreign aid cannot withstand such a hit. And who does it hit most? Not Sanogo sitting comfortably at the top. No, it is the men and women that live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Let’s not make their life even more miserable than it already is. At this point in time, they are not worried about what policy the government passes next, all they see is the immediate harm in terms of feeding themselves and their families.

Mali at this time needs friends and not foes. They need the international community to work with the military leaders currently in power and encourage them to work with political leaders in Mali on how a peaceful transfer of power can be made. There is not a day that goes by where Sanogo does not reaffirm that power will be handed back. It can be seen one of two ways. Either, he is trying to convince the outside world or he is trying to convince himself. Either way, great strides have been made by the military rule to ensure the safety of our Malian brothers and sisters. The Malian way of life has for the most part been restored with the borders reopening and airports functional. In addition government buildings and banks are open. There are security measures in place at the banks which are controlled by the Central Bank of Africa so that huge withdrawals are not made. All in all, calm is restored in the capital. Now, it will be important for political leaders to work together with the military leaders and provide solutions to get out of the current situation with the least casualties.

Now more than ever, the campaign must go on. I could take my family and return to the safety and security of America. However, my heart is compelling me at this moment that my and Yeah’s efforts are needed here in Mali. I have the firm belief that things happen for a reason and they are a test to man as to how we can make the best of what life throws at us. It is at times like these true leaders will emerge that have only one duty and that is to serve our people. We must now focus on the situation at hand and decide what is best for Mali.

Please continue to support our campaign. I know you probably are saying, well why would we support something when we don’t even know when the elections will be. In a way I can understand that. However, this has never been about the goal of winning the elections. This campaign has been about an awakening of the hearts and minds of Mali to a new way of government which actually cares and furthers the wellbeing of their people. I implore you to think of it as not just an election that has been delayed; now we are in the fight to restore democracy. We are in this to bring relief to the 175K+ refugees stuck without recourse.

You know how we all say, well that is history. Well here is your chance to help make history and restore to Mali the stability and the voice of the people who are struggling to be heard.

Make your voice heard today at


Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Past Posts


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Celebrating Democracy

Today was a very memorable day for Malians. No it was not a 4-day celebration of the coup. Today, we celebrated Martyrs Day. As the world watched the events emerging since the coup, many embassies and consulates warned their citizens to stay away from the march that was to commemorate this day which is also popularly known as Democracy Day.

A little history about this day. On March 26th, 1991, 300 demonstrators were killed in clashes with the military, as they protested against then leader Moussa Traoré. The protest was organized against Traoré’s Multiparisme political system set up on October 1989 and increasing amount of unemployment and pay cuts from the government including the rampant privatization of government properties created great dissatisfaction. In an attempt to control the crowd and stall the mounting protest and crack down its organizers, Traoré launched a violent military attack against the protesters ending into a horrific death of more or less 300 people. Because of this, members of concerned military officers, headed by ATT himself, launched a military coup against Traoré thereby ending his more than 23 years of political rule in Mali.

To be honest, I find it most ironic that the coup happened less than a week before the so-called Democracy Day, ending the very democracy that so many sacrificed their lives for. Many parties and individuals sharing this very sentiment joined a peaceful march to speak out against the coup. The march was held at Bourse de Travail ( Labor Union Building) and there were chants for Sanogo to step down and for ATT to be restored back to power. In addition, there were shouts for the ORTM building to be liberated. The military has kept control of the TV station since the coup started on Wednesday. Soldiers maintained their presence to keep protesters at bay and ensure that no one got violent. I am just glad this march did not go wrong. It was also nice to see that democracy was not completely lost as people voiced their displeasure with Sanogo taking over the democratic process a month before Malians were set to go to the polls. Sanogo, on National TV, spoke to honor the souls that had been lost in this historic battle and reaffirm to the Malian people that power would be returned to the people. Sad and ironic how Mali has stepped back in time. May those 300 lives not have been lost in vain, may democracy rein free and fair again, for despite its weaknesses, the will of the people needs to mold the future of our country.

Martyrs Day March Mali: A Peaceful Protest

The day passed peacefully with no reports of any negative backlash or violence. Tomorrow will mark the first day of official work since the coup broke out. Sanogo has asked all government officials to return to work. The day after the coup, these were some of the first people that were given instructions. It will be interesting to see what new developments unfold. Sanogo is starting to look more and more like a President and less like just another military officer on TV. Another good sign that life is returning back to normal is that airports will open tomorrow. My interns leave us on March 29th, a month ahead of their planned departure. I am definitely sad to see them go. They have been a true asset to our campaign. How many students would be willing to pay their own way to come intern in a foreign country for a foreign campaign when they could be in the US doing the same thing in this election year? Not many and there are not many that could have worked the 14 hour days we sometimes threw at them. Liz Jessop and Kyle Rehn, you will be missed but we are glad your parents will have you back home, safe and sound.

Yeah has been working hard as well. He left this morning at 9am and has been having political meetings since then to try to see if a unified front can be created to convince the new President to restore democracy. It is becoming harder and harder to do so, as politicians attempt to gain favor with the new President in hopes that they may get a position in government. It is disheartening to see that these are the same leaders that if they had run on April 29th and won, they would be running our whole country. Sanogo, came on ORTM tonight, promising to work with political parties within the next few weeks to create a unified government. The question becomes with a unified government, it’s like having a dual Presidential system with Democrats and Republicans. No bill would ever get passed and no law ever instituted.

The time has come when politicians in Mali need to get off their personal agendas and start pushing out one agenda alone and that is the welfare of Mali.


Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Past Posts


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