As Mali takes a turn down a familiar and unpopular route in African history, the elements leading to the current condition warrant more than lukewarm observations.
Mali as a West African polity has not – in any real way – divested from its lingering ties as a colony in the relics of the French empire, considering a timeline spanning from the end of the 2nd World War to the spree of African decolonisation in the 1960s. To ignore this, is to erase the fact that the region and the people within were largely considered a source of cheap labour and raw materials for the newly industrialised economy of France. One must also note that this deep relationship was/is largely maintained by the close ties of the political and economic elite class of both Mali and France. According to a text by Tony Chafer in the Journal of Modern and Contemporary France, these ties were maintained through the concept of coopération which were accords that allowed France to establish socio-political, economic and military links with its former African colonies. Furthermore, these informal networks between the countries were mostly without oversight invariably leading to corruption, which practically brought about the scourge of bad governance that troubles the region to this day. This is not unique to Mali and is a persisting problem plaguing most countries of Africa.
With poor governance comes bad policies, again, Mali is not to be singled out as this is another flare up signalling the dire state of affairs in many governments on the continent. A lack of coherence on the policies meant to tackle regional security challenges, and the complete unwillingness to consider other actions aside from military based options, completely disregards the material realities of the affected populations. It can be understood that the sporadic attacks of violent armed groups has the effect of displacing large and vulnerable sects of the indigenous, who are then forced into treacherous journeys across the Sahel in search of safety and economic activities. Being a member of the ECOWAS, the current issues in Mali as well as the similar problems plaguing the economic bloc, is an unfortunate testament to the lack of true cooperation between member states of the bloc. This is also a failing of the so-called international community, whose responses when sorted, usually ranges from foreign military interventions to highly publicised but ultimately ineffective NGO programs. Hardly ever will the international community muster resources to support the will of the actual Malian people or the Chadian people etc. Well, the people must have gotten tired of waiting.
On the 18th of August 2020, following months of protests and revolts by the people of Mali, the military initiated a coup with the arrest of President Kaita and Prime Minister Maïga. The group leading the action include Colonel Diaw, Colonel Camara and Brigadier General Dembele. The action is also tied to the people’s dissatisfaction with the outcome of the 2018 elections as well as poor economic conditions which the people blame on a leader that is out of touch with the realities on the ground. Videos of cheering and celebrating protesters as well as children playing in the Presidential Villa stand in stark contrast to condescending statements of rebuke issued by various world leaders and organisations. This is another instance of an out-of-touch leadership. The ECOWAS has already demanded sanctions on the coup leaders and announced the closure of land and air borders between Mali and its partner states according to THE EAST AFRICAN.
Various Nigerian media outlets have reported that the Federal Government of Nigeria condemns the coup and demands ‘immediate return of constitutional order’ according to PunchNG. The Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama also tweeted the same demand but ended his message with a threat? Saying; ‘We welcome the urgent activation of the ECOWAS standby force’. This is not surprising as reporting by Deutsche Welle, via AllAfrica, shows that French and German Troops stationed in the Sahel are already on high alert. Simply furthering evidence to the limited and short-sighted responses of the international community.
There is barely any coverage in support of the people’s wishes and actions, only infantilising reports about democracy and chaotic crowds who do not know what is good for them. For what it is worth, governments elsewhere are reminded that their populations can only take so much abuse and at some point will act collectively in their own interest. The age of information has further granted the populace the ability to see through the cynical and corrupt practices of failing leaders. At moments like this, a strong sense of political understanding is being absorbed rapidly by more segments of humanity the world over, a shared sense of righteous struggle and liberation also serves as a galvanising force for the people. A crowning feature of events such as is occurring in Mali, is an overarching political ideology grounded in the collective improvement for the material realities of the everyday worker. All eyes are on Mali, what she does next will speak volumes.
FrancAfrique and Regime Theory – European Journal of International Relations
Chirac and ‘la Françafrique’: No Longer a Family Affair – Modern & Contemporary France https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0963948052000341196
ECOWAS rejects Mali coup, orders sanctions against masterminds – The EastAfrican https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/rest-of-africa/ecowas-rejects-mali-coup-orders-sanctions-1921096
FG condemns Mali coup, demands return to constitutional order – Punch Nigeria https://punchng.com/fg-condemns-mali-coup-demands-return-to-constitutional-order/
Mali – a Revolt That Led to a Coup d’Etat – AllAfrica https://allafrica.com/stories/202008200068.html