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Strengthening ties with India

2015-10-24 23.17.42The last week in October was probably the most important, hectic week so far in our diplomatic career. During this time, India held its 3rd Africa India summit and hosted about 54 African nations in an effort to boost ties between the continent of Africa and India. In the biggest event since 1983, 42 African presidents attended this grand summit .

We had a unique opportunity to host the President of Mali, H.E. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the First Lady of Mali, H.E. Madame KEITA Aminata Maiga, a delegation of six Malian ministers and 15+ government staff. What a nail biting yet amazing experience!!

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During the weeklong event, Mali had an opportunity to share with India the many ways that we can grow a mutually beneficial relationship with India. The Foreign Minister H.E Abdoulaye DIOP extended his gratitude for the military support provided by India while encouraging India to further strengthen its cooperation  in the area of ​​peace, security and the fight against terrorism. The Indian PM Narendra Modi announced a 10 billion USD line of credit, aid amounting to 600 million USD over the next 5 years which includes a India-Africa Development Fund of 100 million U.S. dollars and an India-Africa Health Fund of 10 million U.S. dollars and 50000 scholarships for African students over the next 5 years.

In his address, our President, His Excellency Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita first paid tribute to the longstanding friendship and cooperation between India and Africa that were strengthened by leaders like Gandhi, Presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser, Nkrumah, Modibo Keita, Nelson Mandela and Jomo Kenyatta.

He denounced terrorism and violent extremism, which according to him, is now one of the most serious threats to peace and security and noted that the fight against these evils must be at the center of the joint action of the Partnership. He stressed the potential of both parties and called for a strengthening of the strategic partnership for economic and social development of India and African countries.

He also took the opportunity to express its deep gratitude and that of the people and Government of Mali to all countries friendly to the multifaceted and ongoing support to Mali.

During his meeting with the Prime Minister of India, H.E President Keita expressed his gratitude to India for providing Mali with soldiers to protect the North of Mali. Our President also expressed interest in growing Indian investment opportunities in the fields of agriculture and technology in Mali. PM Modi  further invited President Keita back for a separate bilateral visit to India.

President Keita also took an opportunity to meet with the Malian student leaders from Bangalore. He expressed his support for them and his joy in meeting them.

During this time, I also had an opportunity to spend some time with the First Lady of Mali. I continue to be amazed at her genteel and down to earth nature. During the spouses program, we had an amazing opportunity to visit the beautiful Akshardham temple. During her time at the temple, she joined other African First Ladies in offering  prayers for world peace and harmony by offering ‘abhishek’, the ceremonial pouring of sanctified water from 151 holy rivers, lakes and ponds across India on the sacred image of Sri Neelkanth Varni. About the visit, the First Lady said: The visit was really educative. It is a place of peace, humanity and wisdom. Simply magnificent and a beautiful monument. May we keep inspiring from the past values to make our life more beautiful. Well done to Indian people for their ingenuity work.”

The last night, our delegation was received by a big Indian delegation that introduced us to the mystery of Bollywood and the true Indian culture. The night was filled with great music and good Indian food. This experience left quite a indelible unforgettable mark among all our delegation.

This summit was monumental in terms of the endless possibilities to grow Mali and India’s friendship. Yeah and I gained a fresh perspective on how we can move Mali forward in our role. We learned so much more about diplomacy and had a chance to experience it truly at work. What an unforgettable, mind blowing experience all round!

 

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2015 in Past Posts

 

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Taking on India

2015-08-23 11.42.56What a busy couple of months it has been since our plane touched down in New Delhi, India!! The sights, smells and sounds of Delhi has brought back many beautiful memories. It has been 15 years since I returned back home to India and so far the experience has been marvelous. If anyone had said to me a few years ago, that I would be in India in service of the Malian people, I would have laughed. Our kids were amazed and did not believe it when we were called to serve in India. For many years, Keanen and Carmen would talk about India and how since they had lived in their dad’s country, they now wanted to visit their mom’s country. And what better way to do it than to help represent Mali’s interest in India.

On August 16th, our family and dog arrived safely in New Delhi. As we walked out of the plane we were greeted by the Mali Embassy team based in Delhi. But the welcome was not over yet. We were then welcomed by the Ambassadors of all the West African nations that are based in India. It was truly such a warm welcome and an unexpected honor. What a great start to our journey in India!

Just one short week later, we were in for another auspicious occasion. Yeah welcomed the First Lady of Mali, Her Excellency Madame Keita Aminata Maiga, and her delegation who arrived in New Delhi to attend a week-long conference on ending child and maternal deaths. Being an issue that is close to her heart, she spoke to Ministers of Health from many countries and Indians leaders on what Mali is doing to create a safer, healthier environment for both mothers and children. Reducing infant mortality while ensuring mother safety is a key part of her mission as a First Lady. It was an honor to meet her and it was interesting to notice a humility and down to earth nature that is usually not common to someone in such a high position. The trip was a first for the First Lady and an undoubted success!

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Call2Action Summit 2015: First Lady of Mali with Indian PM Modi and other world health ministers

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Ambassador Samake visiting with First Lady of Mali, Her Excellency Madame Keita Aminata Maiga

The very next week, on September 2nd, in an official ceremony, Yeah got to present his credentials to the Indian President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

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Ambassador Yeah Samake presenting his credentials to Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee

And I was honored to watch him do this. What a once in a life time experience! With close to a billion population, not many Indians can say they shook hands with the President. The ceremony was amazing and awe inspiring. I am so proud of Yeah and all he has done to reach this stage of his career. After Yeah presented his credentials and the greetings of the President of Mali, he visited with the President to discuss the Mali-India relationship and what he hoped to accomplish to strengthen ties between the two countries. It was truly a special, memorable day. And the feeling of sitting in a car, flanked by Indian armored cars, with the Mali flag fluttering high, is just incomparable. In the months to come, Yeah will present his credentials in the 9 other countries we oversee: Bangladesh, Nepal , Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.

Since that auspicious day, in an effort to strengthen Mali-Indian ties, Yeah has held audiences with Indian businessmen from many different fields of interest to Mali. He also visited with the Indian Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Dr. Mahesh Sharma.

Yesterday, Mali celebrated her 55th Independence day. And what better way to celebrate this special day than with Malian students in the city of Bangalore. Many of the Malians that are in India are students pursuing a higher university degree. Yeah and his first counselor flew in to Bangalore to meet with the Malian student body. During their time, he visited with the students to better understand their goals and the challenges they face studying in India. This visit will open up opportunities to better place Malian students and also provide a better support system for them through the Embassy.

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It has truly been a busy yet fulfilling few weeks. Our goal here in India, is to increase the profile of Mali and to create many more opportunities for the two countries to grow stronger together. And the start has been simply amazing!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Past Posts

 

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Moving Forward

On July 28th 2013, 48% of Malians went to the polls to choose their leader. We thank all our supporters in the United States, Mali and the rest of the world who have kept our presidential dream alive. We thank you for the countless prayers and financial contributions that have allowed us to compete with other candidates with deep pockets and keep going in the face of much adversity and challenge.

During the first round, the top contenders were 68 year old IBK versus 64 year old Soumaila Cisse. Both men have had extensive experience in the government. The second round was held on August 11, 2013. From provisional results released a few days ago, IBK seems to be the victor. If true, he will become the President of Mali for the next 5 years.

Our party, which is a 2 year young party, placed 16th out of 28 candidates. While we are very disappointed at our performance and were hopeful for a more successful outcome, we are proud of the people of Mali who acknowledged the accomplishments of PACP versus other parties that have been on the political scene for more than 10 years. It brought hope back to us that people do want change and it is our responsibility to continue to educate many more fellow Malians about who we are and what we can do for Mali.

It was a great honor for us to participate in the race for the Presidency. Through our candidacy and campaign to turn the page of 20 years of mismanagement, we met with Malians inside and outside to understand their aspirations, their concerns, their expectations and their dreams.

During the second round, Yeah chose to not follow any of the two top candidates IBK or Soumaila Cisse. Throughout the campaign, our slogan has been to turn the page on old government and corruption. By supporting either of these candidates Yeah would have been compromising our strong stance on the need for change. Many of the young candidates chose to go with IBK in the second round. Many of these same candidates had been strong critics of the government and the need for change. When Yeah decided to go with neither candidate, people in Mali were amazed. Many people have congratulated Yeah for remaining true to his conviction and not being swayed by promises of money or a position in the new government. On the other hand, some of our opponents have launched political attacks to destroy our credibility.

The time is unsure right now for us right now. Despite this setback, we believe that no matter what the result, we will continue to serve the people of Mali in some capacity. If the new administration calls us to serve in a certain area, despite our political differences, that is something we will seriously consider in order to impact Malians in that area.

We will also continue to put attention and fund-raise for our Utah-based foundation Empower Mali.

Empower Mali was created to meet the growing need in the areas of education, healthcare and access to basic necessities in the rural communities of Mali, West Africa. Understanding that no one knows better how to resolve the issues of their community than the community members themselves, Empower Mali forms a unique partnership with the community connecting resources with communities in need. The ultimate goal is to raise Mali out of poverty, one community at a time. Empower Mali maintains a close partnership with communities, government and local authorities in Mali. We understand that local participation is key to the success of any sustainable development.

We are excited to start on projects in Mali. We already have funds raised to build one school which is in progress and we are currently raising funds for a Light-A-Village project to help bring lighting to a rural village in Mali. You can find out more at http://goalzero.fundly.com/empower-mali. We all have the ability to make a difference in the world. Check us out at www.empowermali.org or find out how you can affect Malians for good at info@empowermali.org

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The story has just begun. At the end of the day, we will accept and fulfill any role that allows us to fulfill our great ambition of bringing change to Mali. We will continue to keep you updated on our journey.

This has been an incredible experience and we are very grateful for your support and investment in our ambition to improve the lives of the Malian people. This journey would have been incomplete without the support of each and every one of you who cheered us on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this dream a reality and for believing in us.

I assure you that our fight for a new Mali is just beginning!

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Why we do what we do

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Think about the future of your children when you vote

 

With 5 days to go, all I can say is Mali’s future is at stake. We are determined now more than ever to affect change. Mali cannot remain destitute for 20 more years.

On July 28th, Malians will choose their destiny. They will either say they want to stick with the old corrupt guards or go with a new leader with fresh ideas and someone who has served them.

For us the Presidency is a means to an end. An end in which we can make Mali the great, prosperous nation that can enjoy education and healthcare for all citizens.

This video captures perfectly our vision and our passion. We thank our Alma Mater BYU for sharing our story. We all have the ability to make a difference in our own corner of the world. Don’t miss it!

Here are some shots from the last few days of campaigning in Koutiala, San, Segou, Commune IV, Kenedougou, Koury and Mopti to name a few

I thank all our supporters for donating to our campaign, especially when we issued an announcement for a $30,000 need. In the last three days we were able to raise $10K. We are still trying to raise $20000 to be used on the actual day of elections to be able to send our members in each voting area to ensure no voter fraud happens. There are 8 regions in Mali containing 703 cities. The money covers their transportation to/from the regions and their food.

Asking for money is not something I am comfortable doing. But we need your help. If you can help, no matter how big or small, please help push us closer to that $20,000 goal. 

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God bless Mali and all Malians everywhere!

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Turn the Page

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This past week, it has been extremely interesting to hear the other candidates speak. Like parrots they speak the words “turn the page”, an adage coined and displayed first by the Samaké campaign. But what does it mean to truly turn the page?

Look at Mali today. Where does Mali stand despite all its resources in cotton, agriculture and gold? Mali is the second biggest producer of cotton in the world and the 3rd biggest producer of gold in Africa. Yet, one only has to walk into the streets to see the beggars line up. The Malian people are a strong people. They have done their best to make the best of the bad situation.  During the crisis of last year, there are many people that have taken to the streets to sell goods. That is one of the things I love most about the Malian people. While some might see it as being resigned to their fate, I see it as them making the most of what little they have. And that is a quality few countries can talk of.

Look at the candidates running. There are 28 candidates. They each talk of what they will do for the country when they become President. Many candidates have a platform, few have a clean track record of being doers. Most of these candidates have held positions of power. They have been ministers, prime ministers and directors of government agencies. There is not one of these candidates that can say they have helped the country during their leadership tenure. If anything they have eaten the country’s money while the people around them get more destitute. Nepotism and corruption have run high and no good has come from their tenure. And then after their terms, which they have tried to prolong, they become critics of the government’s policies. So first you have inaction and then you have talk, both of which are useless and cheap.

On the other hand you have the young candidates. There are some candidates who have been paid off by the older candidates to run so as to take away votes. Some have created secret alliances with the old class yet they preach of change. Still some have dirty hands themselves having embezzled money in the positions they held.

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This is the political landscape we are fighting in. We are not in this for the fame, the money or the glory. We could sit in America and make 10 times what we will ever make here. For the past 10 years we have shown the Malian people, where we have worked, a different way of life. With each school we helped build, we have helped educate a village and villages around it. With each water pump we have installed, we have brought health and clean water to a community. With each hospital/clinic we have helped build, we have brought accessible healthcare to the community. While others candidates talk of change, we have brought change.

While the country has regressed, the communities where we have worked have grown and prospered. Ouélessébougou is a prime example of that. While the rest of country languishes with daily power cuts, Ouélessébougou enjoys electricity 24/7 ( except during a bad storm). Today Ouélessébougou sits at the #7 position out of 703 cities in Mali. When Yeah took office 4 years ago, it was 699 out of 703. People say, oh well, running a town is much different than running a country. We say, change happens at the bottom and if each town was empowered to change their future instead of an ineffective government trying to determine it, Mali would be a very different place. If each community had a university and a school, children from the village would return home and try to improve the community instead of clustering in the cities that have the university.

Change. The time for Change is here. Mali deserves better. And it is up to us to help change Mali. Each of us has the ability to make a difference. Each of us has the ability to empower communities in Mali, whether you are in Mali or in the rest of the world. The biggest lack right now is not that the Malian people don’t know, it is that they don’t know better. This has been their life for 50 years, if not more. Mali is as poor and destitute as it was 50 years ago. Its 20 year democracy has been a sham where leaders have been propelled into power through voter fraud.

Change. Change for Mali. Change in Leadership. The time has come to Turn the Page on Bad Government. The time has come to Turn the Page on Irresponsible Leadership. The time has come for the Malian people to prosper. That will not happen under the candidate IBK. That will not happen under the candidate Soumaila Cisse or Modibo Sidibe. That will definitely never happen under the candidate Ahmed Sow, Soumana Sacko or Dramane Dembele.

Yeah Samaké is the only man who has served his people and if given the chance he can mould Mali’s future into a prosperous one filled with opportunities for every race, religion and background.

July 28th is the day that Mali’s future will be determined. July 28th is the day when either the chains of illiteracy, poverty and death will be broken or strengthened.

We are on a race to raise $30,000 more to staff precinct captains that can watch for voter fraud in all 703 cities in Mali. Do not let them win by stealing yet another opportunity from the Malian people for change. Already, the older candidates are starting to tell lies about Yeah in the hopes of taking votes away from us. Help us secure Mali’s prosperous future.

Help us Turn the Page at http://www.samake2013.com

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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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COUNTDOWN 15 DAYS

This past Wednesday, another important milestone in this campaign was reached. PACP officially celebrated the candidature of Yeah Samaké at the Palais de la Culture in Bamako, Mali. The 3000 place hall was jam packed and overflowing with people from all walks of life. However, the biggest age representative was the youth who showed up in packs to support Yeah Samaké and the PACP.

This was an amazing event. It gave us a new opportunity to fire up the youth that has already been so driven. So many youth traveled from as far as Ouélessébougou, Sikasso and Koutiala ( 6 hours away) to come attend this event. The crowd was simply breathtaking to watch and as we walked out, there was a roar of cheering that echoed through the room. It felt surreal, but it was so wonderful to see our campaigning of the last two years reach this milestone.

At the event, Yeah had the chance to reaffirm his commitment to the people of Mali. He asked the crowd to turn the page on 20 years of bad government and ineffective leadership. The words “turn the page” have now become synonymous with Yeah Samaké and are reflected in the billboards and posters that are plastered over town. Other politicians who support Yeah talk of joining the party so that together they can turn the page on 20 years of failed government and corruption.

The next day, Team Samake headed to Yeah’s hometown of Ouelessebougou where they rallied their supporters from the 44 villages. They then went on to celebrate in Misseni, Sikasso, where the Mayor of Misseni and all his councilors were leaving their political party to join Yeah’s party. In addition, one of Mali’s most famous rappers Milmo has endorsed Yeah and has been standing steadfast behind Team Samake. In fact he will tour with Yeah all over Mali during the next two weeks telling the youth to support this young candidate who has served Mali already. Also, today, the first of 3 videos played on national TV. We are so grateful for The Goodline Team Joe, Travis and Josh who traveled all the way to Mali to help us create 3 amazing videos that truly capture the Yeah Samake story and how Malians will be better off with his service like his, principled leadership and fresh perspective.

Things are moving fast and in the right direction for the PACP team and Yeah. We are so excited with all the great developments on the campaign trail!!

TWO MORE WEEKS!!!  Malians are ready for change. They are very tired of the old guard that has gotten rich at their expense.  Change needs to happen. If it does not change, Mali will continue to remain one of the poorest countries in the world with no opportunities. That is a high price for our children in Mali to pay. Together, the time has come to turn the page! Invest today in the future of Mali by investing in Yeah Samake at http://www.samake2013.com

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Posted by on July 14, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Last Barrier to Elections removed

On June 18th, an important step was taken in the resolution of Mali’s 18 month long political and security crises.  Since the French assisted the Malian army in removing the terrorist threat of Al-Qaeda and MUJAO in Tombouctou and Gao, one region remained under rebel control. This region in the North East of Mali was Kidal.

Kidal has remained a sore point for many Malians and a dilemma for the international community.  Since France gave military assistance in January, Kidal has been occupied by the Malian Tuareg rebel group called the National Movement of Azawad (MNLA). Their demands were for a separate, autonomous region called AZAWAD.  Since January, they have installed their own people in administrative positions and not allowed any Malian/international forces in. The Tuaregs are a very small minority in Mali holding less than 10% of the population. For many years they have felt marginalized and felt like they were not treated fairly by the Malian government. France did not want to get involved in Kidal because in essence they would be killing Malians and this could backfire on them. They also prevented the Malian army from entering Kidal because of the potential problems that could come from Malians fighting Malians, but more importantly acts of terror against the people that had aggressed the Malian army just a year ago. While France was initially hailed as a hero for its help in January, most Malians regarded with suspicion and disgust that the French stopped the Malian army from entering Kidal. There was a split between Malians who said they would not vote without one of their regions Kidal being included.

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Last week, a tremendous step forward was made, when an agreement was signed between the MNLA and the Malian government in Burkina Faso.  While the agreement does not resolve the root issue of the problem,  it does allow decisions concerning the stability of the country to be made by a legitimate government rather than an interim government with limited powers. The main issue is that the Tuaregs feel marginalized and uncared for by their central government and so it will be essential for the new government to address this concern.

The next President will have to make it a priority to hold a national dialogue to determine how the issue can be resolved satisfactorily with all parties involved.  For a lasting stability and prosperity, the people of Mali ought to be inspired to a stronger commitment to democratic values and standard economic principles. Corruption must be stamped out to allow proper and equitable allocation of the resources and foster foreign direct investment for the creation of decent employment.

The agreement includes acceptance by MNLA that Mali will not be broken up. In addition, the requirement was made that the MNLA withdraw from Kidal and the Malian army and international forces be allowed to take up position within the region. This interim setup will permit the people of Kidal to participate in Malian presidential elections scheduled for July 28. The MNLA had also asked for amnesty for war crimes, but the government did not agree to this and asked that this be reviewed by a joint commission.

While this treaty is not a permanent solution, it does allow the country as a whole to move forward towards elections. It does allow all ethnic groups in Mali to participate in choosing the nation’s next leader. So in no way can groups claim that the elections were not fair due to Kidal not being involved.

Last month, Yeah had called on the government to step down if Kidal is not released before the election. So with this new development of an agreement reached, Yeah congratulated the government on reaching a settlement with the Tuareg group as a means to an end. The bigger goal of elections and a democratic country need to be achieved first before a long lasting solution with the Tuaregs can be established. It is in this tone, that Yeah extended well wishes. Now the country has a month left before the first round of elections on July 28th.

As we prepare here in Mali for July 28th, I send a special thank you to all our friends, family members and well wishers. We are blessed by your support, prayers and thankful for your kind words of encouragement. The dream we have is a Mali filled with opportunity and hope for all Malians. It is a dream that can become a reality with the right leadership. That leader is Yeah Samaké.

Today, I ask you share our story and website (http://www.samake2013.com) via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Email etc. with one friend or family member. Today, I ask you to share the story of hope we have for a Mali filled with opportunity for every Malian. Your voice is your vote for a new day in Mali. Thank you again for sharing this journey with us!

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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