Two brief observations about Mali:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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?