No News is not Good News in Mali
There is a moment where everything has been written and said about a crisis. We reach that point about Mali. This morning AFP headlines could have been written four months ago: there are consultations over a union government and militaries still fight for power in Bamako (look for yourself: http://www.lepoint.fr/monde/mali-climat-de-tension-apres-22-arrestations-consultations-pour-former-un-gouvernement-19-04-2012-1452990_24.php.
And Western medias continue to publish cliché’s article starting with « Mali, a beacon of democracy and stability, has fallen into chaos ». If there is one thing that this crisis have made sure, it is that Mali was a corrupted country with limited state capabilities and weak security forces. It was neither democratic nor stable; it was just a peaceful country dependent on Libyan money and international aid that was doing fine because of the good will of its population. Mali’s double crisis –the coup and the Islamist invasion in the north- simply reveal that under the shinning image the core was rotting.
But the most tragic is that there are no realistic plans to end the crisis so far. President Dioncounda Traore consults in way to form a union government. Bamako’s political crisis is still ongoing. It was simply on hold while the interim President was in France for a two-month convalescence. Captain Sanogo and his junta might have receded from the headlines, he still attempt to control Bamako’s political life as his men continue to “arrest” red berets or harass local journalists. Tensions have increased this week as the residents of the Djicoroni Para camp are resisting arrests.
The Malian army is not ready for a counter-offensive in the north. A month and half ago, PM Cheick Modibo Diarra conducted a review of the army in Segou in prevision of a grand offensive to recapture the north. Every other day, we hear call from volunteers to fight. And well, many months later, the Islamists remain in control of 2/3 of the country while Tuareg rebels have vanished.
The “population” supported the coup, but life in the country has become harsh. In Bamako, rice was still 100 CFA more per kilo than it was in last December. But it is difficult to see correlation between food prices and the current crisis as this is Ramadan, and price of alimentary goods always increased during that period. But the mood is low within the population. And, for a journalist, you can make people say whatever you want as Malian’s cynicism is increasing out of despair.
In the turmoil, Malians are left by itself as the “international community”, which mostly consists of ECOWAS and its mediator Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore, has deliver no coherent strategy yet. ECOWAS answer has been inconsistent after 7 summits on Mali. On August 6th, ECOWAS chiefs of staff are meeting in Bamako to finalize plans for a military operation. It is probably good news for the region, but echoes from the meeting says that it will consist more a police operation to stabilize Bamako while waiting for more precision for an operation in the north.
It is clear now that Mali’s unity will not be re-established soon. It is also clear that Mali is not a failed state: it is barely a state at all. But, mostly, it is clear than, in this case, no news is not good news.