Mali: Quick Items on Elections, Protests, and the Northern Rebellion

Two brief observations about Mali:

  1. Some northern Malians do not want the country’s presidential elections, scheduled for April 29, to go forward (Fr) while the rebellion in that region is still active. But there is still a lot of pressure on Mali and in Mali to hold the elections. This week, the Economic Community of West African States urged Mali to move forward with the vote “at all costs.” Major candidates also reportedly oppose any delay. And, of course, the current government has said the elections will take place.
  2. The protests that Mali saw earlier this year over the alleged mismanagement of the war are not over. This week students marched in Kati (Fr; map). They were “worried about the insecurity that prevails in the north, especially in Tessalit” and hoped to meet with the president to discuss the crisis. There is also reportedly discontent within the army (Fr), amid losses to the Tuaregs and accusations of corruption (h/t Martin Vogl).
  3. There has reportedly been a split within the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA), the Tuareg-led rebel army in the north. Specifically, the group Ancar Dine (Ar: “Supporters/Defenders of the Faith”) has called for an Islamic republic and the application of shari’a in Mali. One Malian source (Fr) says (my translation), “Taking this radical position signals a rupture with the MNLA.” After a meeting between MNLA leaders and Ancar Dine’s leader Iyad Ag Ghali failed to resolve the difference in position, the rupture deepened. MNLA released a statement on Monday affirming its desire for a republic “based on principles of democracy and secularism.” Ancar Dine now claims to control northeastern Mali.

What do you make of these items, particularly the last one?

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5 thoughts on “Mali: Quick Items on Elections, Protests, and the Northern Rebellion

  1. Iyad Ag Ghali seems to be out of touch not only with touaregs, but with the rest of the world. His refusal to distance himself from jihadism is very destructive for the MNLA. However, AFAIK he was never part of the MNLA. He created Ansar Eddine last fall, so there is no ‘rift’ within the MNLA.
    At first I thought it was a move designed to appeal to the touaregs fighting under Ag Ghali’s cousin Abdelkrim for Aqim and bring them into the movement. In that respect he has been reportedly successful.
    But the islamist and sharia appeals are crazy. Leading some to say he is an agent for Bamako (MNLA), DRS (Keenan) or someone else.
    How and if the MNLA can handle him remains to be seen. After claiming that Ansar Eddine has taken control of the territory they will have to do something about it, or they will never get the support they need.
    Does Mali stand a risk of loosing the north? There are voices in France, Algeria and elsewhere supportive of touaregs who suggest this is a possible outcome.

    • It would be rather unpopular internationally. France and the majority of the world is committed to ‘no new nations without special circumstances’, mostly because everyone in power wants to avoid the wars in Africa, the Middle East, Balkans and Asia that are finally ending. That’s also one of the reasons everyone’s watching Libya with concern.

      • Get ready for a lot of new nations in Africa. Some problems cannot be solved without new nations emerging. Expect a couple in Nigeria, keep an eye on Cote D’Ivoire, Congo DRC cannot continue in its current state….

        There is no basis for nationhood in several African states and we cannot continue to live that lie. The problems in Cote D’Ivoire and Congo DRC are nowhere near to being resolved.

      • With the coup d’etat in Bamako secession of Mali looks even more possible, if still unlikely. How many believe the touaregs are capable of building the institutions necessary for statehood? They are eternally divided, it seems. Now, in Mali, we have imghads fighting for the government, MNLA for independence and Ag Ghaly for sharia.

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