Quick Items: ECOWAS and Mali, and Corruption in the Sahel

Two quick items.

First, a few important pieces on Mali:

  • The government of President Dioncounda Traore has agreed to allow the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to base some 3,000 soldiers in Bamako. The BBC reports that “before the deployment can go ahead, it will need a mandate from the [UN] security council, which earlier rejected an intervention plan because of a lack of detail.”
  • International Crisis Group has released a briefing on Mali that urges “determined and coordinated international action.” From the briefing:

All scenarios are still possible, including another military coup and social unrest in the capital, which risks undermining the transitional institutions and creating chaos that could allow religious extremism and terrorist violence to spread in Mali and beyond. None of the three actors sharing power, namely the interim president, Dioncounda Traoré, the prime minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, and the ex-junta leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, enjoys sufficient popular legitimacy or has the ability to prevent the aggravation of the crisis. The country urgently needs to mobilise the best Malian expertise irrespective of political allegiance rather than engaging in power plays that will lead the country to the verge of collapse.

  • IRIN, finally, has a report on aid delivery to northern Mali: “NGO Médecins du Monde (MDM), active in the north for more than a decade and now with over 250 staff supporting more than 20 health posts, including Kidal hospital, says NGOs have to get beyond the main towns and villages and reach more vulnerable communities in outlying areas.”

Second, this month the Global Observatory of the International Peace Institute is focusing on the Sahel. I have contributed a piece on corruption. If you read the piece, let us know your thoughts here in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Quick Items: ECOWAS and Mali, and Corruption in the Sahel

    • The “weak institutions” explanation can be a cliche, but I think that has to be part of the answer, especially if weak institutions coexist with sudden influxes of wealth from resource extraction. That even in places like Senegal and Mali, which have been hailed as success stories for democracy and governance, there can be pervasive corruption, shows that the institutions and practices necessary for transparency, integrity, and enforcement are weak. With that said, the Sahel is definitely not the only part of the world that scores high for corruption on lists like Transparency International’s.

      • There are still weak institutions across the world. Anything in the Sahel’s recent history or geography to make it less likely to have durable states?

      • I think there’s a number of factors at work, but I definitely don’t have a firm answer. The history of military coups in the region definitely means something, as does the long tenure of many rulers. There is the extreme concentration of wealth at the top and lack of a broad middle class in many countries, along with the problem of weak governments attempting to control vast territories, and sometimes dealing with sudden influxes of wealth. Then, too, you have difficulties holding leaders accountable, while some of the leaders who have taken strong reformist stances, purging officials and remaking governments, etc, such as Capt. Sankara in Burkina or General Murtala Muhammad in Nigeria, have ended up meeting violent ends. Then there is the problem of rulers’ entourages and cliques; even some rulers who are clean are surrounded by people who are not. Those are the factors that occur to me if we’re speaking about the region as a whole – but to really explain the drivers of corruption I think one would have to go to the national and sub-national levels, because each country, even if they share some similarities, is its own case.

        What are your thoughts?

  1. Hi, but are there any empirical evidence to support the argument about institutions, in the case of Mali? I know institutions determine the economic growth and the implementation of plans and policies, but I could not find anything that might say this was the case in Mali. If you have any sources, or how I can put hold on such evidence, I will be very grateful.

    Thanks for the insights.

    • Sorry, I’m not sure I understand what you mean. I should say too that this piece is by now quite out of date.

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