Saturday, June 06, 2015

Is Mali still a sovereign state?

 I am watching with dismay the reports on Malijet:  the Malian government has been stripped of all authority and forced to dance like puppets to the tune of the Algiers mediators whose new ‘Security Arrangements’ have been drawn up on the insistence  of the CMA.  Predictably , these ‘security arrangements ‘ include the withdrawal of the Plate-forme with GATIA from Menaka.  The paper was signed yesterday by  the Malian government via their foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop; the CMA and the mediation. The withdrawal of the troops is to begin within 72 hours of the signing. The problem is that the Plateform is refusing to sign. They are in control of the town and are unwilling to budge.
The security of the town is to be assured by the UN according to this agreement.
This might sound reasonable, but  judging from the storm of comments on Malijet;  the indignant clamour on Facebook as well as everyone I have been in contact with, noone believes for a minute that the MNLA will not be back again once the Plateforme has moved out. The Malian people have but little faith in the UN or in Serval - the French forces- to keep the peace. Malians are sick to their stomachs to see what they believe to be blatant partiality in favour of the armed rebels. And it is not hard to understand why: Malians remember too well what happened in Kidal after the Ouagadougou  Agreement in 2013.  This agreement  was brokered after the Malian army with Gamou's troops (not yet called GATIA then) stood at the gates of Kida1 and  would most probably have taken it from the MNLA had they not been stopped in their progress by the French army. Emergency negotiations followed and the Ouagadougou agreement  was reached which a1lowed for the elections to go ahead. According to this agreement the MNLA were supposed to be disarmed and kept 'in containment' and under supervision by the UN and French forces. Instead they continued to patrol the town freely, adorned by their Kalashnikovs, raising the AZAWAD flag in plain view of the UN as well as the French, while the Malian Army were not allowed in!  
Of course it will be the same thing in Menaka goes the argument.

Will the Plateforme move out of Menaka? Above Harouna Toureh, the spokesman  for the Plateforme in Algiers.  They represent a large slice of Mali’s public opinion, and not only in the North: their GATIA fighters are seen as a beacon of hope for a nation that has seen nothing but deep humiliation for years.  Most Malians now feel that the Plateforme have been betrayed by the government by the signing of this  paper. I think I can guess what the Bamako diplomatic attitude to this would be:  that the only thing possible is the signing of the paper and the removal of GATIA from Menaka.  But for how long and how totally can the voice and the opinion of a nation be ignored? Even a poor people like the Malians must finally be listened to and the feelings of ordinary Malians must be taken into account by those who ca1l themselves peacemakers if the objective of 'peace and reconciliation' is to have any meaning.


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