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A Deal reached ending Sanctions: political aftermath

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

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

Our Mali divided

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

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

Mali's various ethnicities

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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ADPS: A solution from within

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the governing principles of ADPS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Coup d’état in Mali: What comes next?

SAMAKE FOR DEMOCRACY! MALI IS STRONG. MAY OUR VOICE BE HEARD.

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 http://www.samake2012.com

 
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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.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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A slow return to calm

For the last 24 hours, Bamako has experienced the first feeling of true calmness since the coup happened. We have been able to restock on all items imaginable and I have no doubt the Malian economy has benefited from my nervousness. In addition, while there have been reports that the water and electricity will be cut off, my area of Faladie has seen no cuts in either. Many people are expecting the craziness of the 1991 coup, but none of it has materialized. Citizens remain unharmed and for the most part go about handling their daily business till 6pm when curfew starts. The only thing that materializes the feeling of captivity for me is that the airport and borders remain shut down. There are rumors that they will reopen on Wednesday. As long as they remain shut no one can get out. But also no one and nothing can get it in. This means fuel and food are not being replenished. Already fuel has risen to 2000cfa per litre compared to 500cfa a week ago. This I believe will be the true test of this leadership. They need to start showing some good faith by reopening the borders and airports.

Also the leaders of MNLA in the North are reporting they will advance and capture more towns, taking advantage of the governments weakness at this time. I worry for the additional people that will be displaced by this fighting. Already we have 175000 refugees living in despicable conditions. 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. Yeah and his team have been attempting to raise refugee aid to help his 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.

Despite reports yesterday afternoon that loyalists/Red Berets would try to reclaim the TV station ORTM and the palace, the night remained relatively calm. The Red Berets are Mali’s version of the Secret Service that Obama has. Their duty is to protect their president at all times and with their life. At one point there were reports that the loyalists had won and Sanogo injured. At 9:30pm, after announcements from the spokesperson, the leader of the coup, Sanogo, came on TV and advised that he was safe. He advised that the rumors were unfounded. As he spoke, the camera spun around showing the faces of none other than the members of the Red Beret. The Red Beret spokesperson then spoke and advised that they would rally their support around the coup leaders. There is no saying how valid this is or whether these individuals are the actual Red Beret that protect the president. I guess the next few days will tell a better story.

One of the biggest concerns that happened after the coup was the capture of several leaders and also the looting of the government buildings. Several leaders were taken and detained less because of their loyalty to the former president Amadou Toumani Toure(ATT) and more because they themselves have been involved in embezzlement of funds and ineffective governance. Since the coup started, many houses of these leaders and stores were looted. Sanogo came on TV last night condemning the looting. He severely cautioned his own people who this took away from the good they meant to bring the country. He also told the Malian people who several civilians, seeing the opportunity, had dressed in military uniform and was responsible for “some” of the looting. They then showed a video of all the things taken by the military from the government offices and advised that they would all be returned. In addition, Sanogo stated that the leaders detained would not be physically harmed and that they would receive a fair trial that would be untouched by these politicians money and connections when the government re-established itself.

Yeah, has been working feverishly to get in touch with other political leaders so that a united front can be created that will stand up for democracy. It is amazing how many leaders are unwilling to stand up for something they claimed was important. How can anyone support the loss of democracy that takes away the voice of the people. How does a true leader support the actions that have caused fear in the hearts of the people they were campaigning to protect. There are so many leaders that have just jumped ship in an attempt to gain favor with the new military leaders. Yeah has condemned the coup and continues to condemn it. However he remains firm in his belief that we are now in this situation and the best way to get back to democracy is to open peaceful dialogue with the military leaders of the coup. He shares the conviction of the Malian people who the ex-president ATT had not done all he could have to prevent the issues in the North. Yeah continues to hope that political leaders will show true leadership and defend their country by banding together to convince the military coup leaders to create a government that is filled with politicians and not military personnel.

March 27th will spell an important day for Malians, as the military establish their temporary government.It will be essential to see the constitution re-established and a new date set for the elections. There is the concern I have that some of the leaders like Modibo Sidibe and Jeamille that have been jailed were presidential candidates and some that escaped to other countries like Soumaila Cisse and Diacounda will not be able to compete. This will create tensions in loyalists of these parties and any results will be heavily disputed. It will be important for this military government to make sure they address the reasons why these individuals are being detained and try them sooner rather than later by a just judicial system.

This is without doubt a time of uncertainty. However, we must now make the best use of the situation that has happened. Nothing works with anger and no one is going to do anything just because the US or EU said so. Now more than ever it is essential to open the dialogue. Dialogue does not mean mindless following. However, it does allow for leaders to discuss how best to bring together their different opinions in the hope of furthering the future and success of their beloved country.

Here’s hoping and praying that democracy will prevail and that Mali may be able to bounce back from this coup and the ill-effects it has already caused to its economy and its people.

Vive la démocratie ! ( Long Live Democracy)
Vive le Mali ! ( Long Live Mali)
Divisés nous perdons tous ! Unis nous gagnons tous! (Divided we all lose! United we all win!)

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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News from Mali

The situation in Mali remains precarious. Last night for the first time since the coup, there was news on ORTM, Mali’s national TV. In an attempt to preserve some sort of normalcy, one of the regular reporters reported the news in Mali. However one could see the lady reporter was frazzled. The report started by showing the current state of the Malian Presidential palace. As the camera zoomed on cars that were riddled with bullets, spent bullets on the ground and the Presidential office ransacked and destroyed, a sense of how real and dangerous this situation is was prominent. In addition the camera focused on military men armed with guns, in an attempt to show who was in control. The reporter also advised all parties running in the race to submit their declarations on the situation. In addition, people were advised that a big meeting would be held today to explain what happened and why it happened in more detail.

As the news wrapped up, the TV channel played movies in an attempt to calm the fears of the population and reassure them that normalcy would return. In addition, soldiers were ordered to stop firing in the air and to return to military barracks around 8pm. The night remained calm and for the most part the nation waited to see the outcome of this coup. The ex-President Amadou Toumani Toure(ATT) is reported missing and has not been captured by military leaders yet. Many ministers that served under ATT have been “detained” including Modibo Sidibe, who was a presidential candidate and the ex-prime minister that embezzled money from Mali. The airports and borders continue to be on lock down restricting anyone from fleeing the country. So far, the one thing that remains promising is the fact that no civilian has been harmed. Yesterday afternoon, spelled a different story, as military people looted the government offices and then attempted to stop cars to help carry the loot. Yeah, who was downtown, doing an interview with Al Jazeera, was flagged to stop in his 4×4. But his driver, encouraged by Yeah, drove past the man in uniform, who fired his gun in the air to show his displeasure. The two Mercedes behind Yeah were stopped instead. The situation has become very real and all this in just a day and a half. It makes you think that there is no control out there. As attention of the military is diverted here, MNLA in the North promises it will continue its advance for independence.

Here is the Al Jazeera piece that Yeah did:

This morning, you could still hear the gunshots ringing in Faladie. Yeah this morning with his advisors left to arrange a meeting with the leader of the military coup Amadou Sanogo. The focus at this point is to establish a peaceful relationship so that things may move faster in the direction of democracy. Also they will be giving their formal declaration to ORTM ( which is still controlled by the military).

It is in situations like these that I believe true leaders emerge. While half the parties hid away not wanting to get involved, Yeah, despite my deep anxiety, had issued his declaration condemning the coup and was already reaching out to the military leaders in charge and other national leaders attempting to see what could be done to restore democracy in a stable and peaceful way. The coup leaders have advised that the end goal is democracy and the elections will happen. However, no time or date has been set in stone. Currently the only promise made is that a government will be put in place on March 27th, 2012 and workers are encouraged to return to work or it will be considered job abandonment. There is no talk of who will hold what role.

It is sad to see one of the more stable democracies in Mali disintegrate after 20 years of hard work. It is almost like time has been turned back to the year of 1991 when the first coup happened since independence. The biggest difference is there has been no claim on innocent civilians. It is the hope that the military will honor their promises and hold the elections so that Malians may be able to choose their own leader and in turn their own destiny.

It is my hope and prayer that things stabilize. But more than that, it is my prayer that democracy is returned back to Mali. The Malians have enough pain and poverty to deal with and now insecurity has only been added to their plate of misery. It is my hope that all the refugees displaced by the fighting in the North will be able to return to their homeland. It is at times like these that I wonder what our children’s future holds when everyone can’t get along. Pray that this homeland can achieve the peace they so desperately need right now and the democracy and honest leadership needed to build a successful future.

God bless you and thank you for your continued support.

Vive la démocratie ! ( Long Live Democracy)
Vive le Mali ! ( Long Live Mali)
Divisés nous perdons tous ! Unis nous gagnons tous! (Divided we all lose! United we all win!)

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Mali in crisis

 

Yesterday afternoon, as Yeah was finishing up a meeting in downtown Bamako, he watched in surprise as across the street military troops led by Capt Amadou Aya Sanogo surrounded the National TV station. Shots were fired in the air, but no civilian was endangered. Soon after the TV and radio stations shut down. For a while the troops blocked access out of the downtown area, but Yeah was able to get home.

As we waited for events to unfold, we received reports that several military officials were livid with the government’s handling of the issue in the North, specifically not arming the troops well with food and weapons to match their enemies. The result of the last few months of fighting in the North between AZAWAD and Mali’s troops have caused deaths on both sides and also displaced about 180000 refugees. As we watched and waited, these military troops stormed the Presidential palace and several high-ranking government officials were captured. Gunfire could be heard sporadically as additional ministers were captured and citizens warned not to interfere.

At 4am, the military troops under the name of National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State, or CNRDR came on National TV advising the reasons behind which they had removed the President from power. They advised that temporarily military rule and curfew was in place and asked citizens not to venture outdoors. Then again about 11am, they issued another statement reaffirming their intentions and advising that a temporary government would be put in place on the 27th of March and advising all administration to return to work on that day or consider it job abandonment.  Currently all airports and borders are shut down as well.

This situation has definitely been hair-raising. At this time, there is no word on the elections that were to happen on April 29th. This group keeps reaffirming that power is not their intention and there will be a return to democratic rule once national unity is restored and territorial integrity is re-established. The only question that remains is when.

Yeah issued this statement regarding the situation on behalf of his party PACP. It follows in French and English

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Chers compatriotes,

Le Parti pour l’Action Civique et Patriotique (P.A.C.P) a suivi avec stupéfaction la mutinerie d’hommes de rang qui s’est dégénérée en une usurpation du pouvoir démocratique.

Le P.A.C.P condamne avec la dernière vigueur la confiscation du pouvoir par des militaires se réclamant du Comité National …pour le Redressement de la Démocratie et la Restauration de l’État (C.N.R.D.R). …

Le P.A.C.P demande à l’ensemble du Peuple souverain du Mali de se mobiliser pour la défense et la consolidation des acquis démocratiques.

Nos ambitions politiques personnelles ne devraient pas nous éloigner des gages qui consacrent la splendeur et la pureté des grandes valeurs qui reposent sur les fondements du vivre ensemble. Ce vivre ensemble qui fortifie la confiance et la cohésion entre les citoyens d’un même pays qu’est notre Mali.

Nous demandons aux forces armées de restaurer urgemment l’unité des différents corps militaires pour la quiétude de la population et prendre les dispositions idoines pour la protection des personnes et des biens sur toute l’étendue du territoire national.

Nous invitons la classe politique malienne à s’organiser pour exiger la remise immédiate du pouvoir au peuple malien par la constitution d’un gouvernement d’union pour assurer la continuité de l’administration et le maintien du calendrier électoral dans le respect strict de la constitution.
Vive la démocratie !
Vive le Mali !
Divisés nous perdons tous ! Unis nous gagnons tous!

In English:

Dear compatriots,

The Party for Civic Action and Patriotic (PACP) followed with amazement the mutiny of men of rank which has degenerated into a usurpation of democratic authority.

The PACP condemns with the utmost vigor the confiscation of power by the military calling itself the National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR).

The PACP asks all of the Sovereign People of Mali to mobilize for the defense and consolidation of democratic gains.

Our personal political ambitions should not get away from pledges to spend the splendor and purity of the great values that are based on the foundations of living together. This is what strengthens confidence and cohesion among citizens of a country that is our Mali.

We ask the military to urgently restore the unity of the various military corps for the tranquility of the population and make appropriate arrangements for the protection of persons and goods throughout the national territory.

We invite Malian politicians to organize and demand the immediate transfer of power to the people of Mali by the formation of a unity government to ensure continuity of administration and maintenance of the electoral calendar in strict compliance with the constitution.

Long live democracy!
Long live Mali!
Divided we all lose! United we all win!

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To all my family and friends, please be assured that my family is fine. We are very worried about what this means for Malians and the Malian refugees displaced. Now is a crucial time for the Malian people. At this time, we pray and hope that there is a swift resolution to this internal crisis. We also pray and hope that no more people will fall on the way to restoring democracy. May Mali recover from this crisis. Vive Mali.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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What this election is all about

When I first heard of Yeah’s decision to run for President eight years ago, in all seriousness, I thought the man was trying to impress me. I thought he was joking. Why would someone living in the land of opportunity (America), want to lead the land of no opportunity (Mali). I dismissed this statement to the back of my mind, never thinking of it again until Yeah became the executive director of Mali Rising Foundation. Now don’t get me wrong, Yeah has always had a deep passion for Mali and his family. He would at times send money to his family even when he had barely enough to cover his rent and tuition. When he started with Mali Rising Foundation, he focused on the issue very close to his heart and the one issue that Mali is combating very heavily today. The Lack of education. The schools he built with American partners had one goal only and that was to alleviate the obstacles young children faced with not having easy access to a God-given right of literacy. Soon enough, the foundation was facilitating medical services to the people of Mali, something that is done till today. There have been multiple containers containing computers, solar panels, desks, school kits and medical supplies that have benefited the Malian people. Since 2004, Yeah and the Mali Rising Foundation have sought to make the lives of Malians better. This is a role that the government should be fulfilling but has failed miserably at it. In 2009, the dream became more of a reality when Yeah told me he was running for Mayor of Ouelessebougou. At that time, I in my selfishness asked him if he was crazy. Today, I see the changes he has brought to his commune of Ouelessebougou. His commune boasts clean running water, a solar field that provides electricity, the only high school in the region and a new hospital in progress. This has been accomplished in a span of less than 3 years.

The first time I came to Mali in 2006, the poverty and lack of opportunity hit me first. But behind this, one only had to look a bit to see beautiful happy people. I have never met a people who are happier than Malians. However, I have also never seen people poorer than Malians. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. Surprising given that they are one of the major exporters of cotton and gold, two commodities that are in high demand in the world. As the current president Amadou Toumani Toure leaves office, he leaves the country in the same state he took it. The only difference is that there are more foreign investments in terms of buildings, airport and roads, that begs the question about what favors were bought. Today, Mali has these facts to bear:

  • Infant Mortality: 111 deaths per 1,000 births
  • Literacy Rate: 46.4%
  • Unemployment: 30%
  • Life expectancy: 52 years
  • 1 doctor per 20,000 people

This country does not need a savior. They need someone who cares. They need someone who has experienced the pain of malaria and hunger first hand. They need someone who knows the pain of losing a loved one to an inadequate healthcare system. They need someone who knows what it means not to earn a paycheck for months on end. That person is Yeah Samake. There is no professional agenda here. The only goal Yeah has is to help the people he loves so much out of the depth and despair that bad governance has condemned them to.

If we are to remain serious competitors against the leaders that have embezzled money for the last 30 years, then we need to raise $50000 immediately. Our party PACP (Parti pour l’Action Civique et Patriotique) will hold its launch on March 25th 2012. The entire event will be televised in an attempt to educate people about what their options are in terms of good leaders. In 42 days, Malians will go to the polls to elect their next President. It is my hope and prayer that Yeah Samake will become the President of Mali, not for personal gain, but because I believe with all my heart that this country deserves the chance and the hope that Yeah can bring.

Please help us today if you can. The time has come to make that donation you have been thinking about and if you weren’t then maybe thinking about making one. What better way to bring change than to elect a leader whose actions will trickle down? We cannot do this without you. Join us in welcoming a new day in Mali and let April 29th 2012 spell change and success for a struggling nation.

Donate if you can at http://www.samake2012.com

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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Yeah speaks on KBYU morning show

Here is the most recent interview Yeah did while he was in the US. It was with KBYU and was aired while he was still there. Thank you Kate Bennion for kindly arranging this interview.

Support us today at http://www.samake2012.com. All the money donated does not line anyone’s pockets. The money is deposited into a bank in America ( so all financial institution laws are followed) and used in Mali/America to spread the word on Samake2012.

We need all the support we can get. If you were thinking of donating, now is the time. With the elections only 44 days away and counting, we need to be able to compete against candidates that have embezzled money. If you cannot contribute financially, use the power of your voice to spread the word among your network. Please help us win this election and bring to realization the dream of a better life for all Malians. They too deserve a better healthcare system, jobs, a stable education system and an developing economy. Support Samake2012 @ http://www.samake2012.com

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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