Over the weekend, a group called Le Collectif des Ressortissants du Nord – “The Northern Citizens’ Collective” or COREN – held a rally in Bamako. COREN emphasized the plight of northerners, including northerners who have been attacked in the south and people in the north who have suffered from displacement and fighting. But COREN also stressed the importance of Mali’s national unity and territorial integrity. The movement hopes to play a central role in negotiating an end to the rebellion in the north.
Yesterday, the website of Mali’s government posted an article (French) by the journal Le Républicain entitled “Nord Mali: Gestion de sortie de crise: ‘Mettre le Coren au centre de toutes les négociations et de gestion'” (“Managing a Way Out of the Crisis: Putting COREN at the Center of Management and All Negotiations”). The article details a 48-point platform that COREN has put forth as a blueprint for resolving the crisis in the north. The platform is meant to be implemented by government and civil society. It prioritizes dialogue and accountability.
Sunday’s meeting was a sequel to earlier meetings between COREN and the government, including one meet earlier this month (French). I will be curious to see how the organization’s role takes shape going forward; for the moment, they have the government’s ear and the ability to bring prominent politicians to the table. The nature of their position – a group that can claim to speak for northerners while taking a line that fits well with the government’s aims – also makes them a natural ally for the government under the current circumstances. Whether or not they can put their proposed solutions into action remains to be seen.