Mali’s Constitution Reinstated under International Pressure, Rebellion Continues in North
April 5, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
Malian Army Captain and leader of the recent coup Amadou Aya Sanogo announced on April 1 the implementation of a transitional government “responsible for organizing peaceful, free, open and democratic elections.” The transitional government will consist of 26 members of the security forces and 15 civilians. Although he did not give a date for elections, Sanogo promised that the coup participants will be barred from participating, CNN reported.
The Economic Community of West African Nations (ECOWAS) had threatened to close access to all ports and financial transactions if the coup government did not relinquish power by April 2. According to ECOWAS President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, all 15 ECOWAS countries had supported the proposed sanctions. Mali was also suspended from the African Union, and France and the United States (US) continue to recognize ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure.
Coup leaders claimed to take control in order to more effectively maintain Mali’s territorial integrity, which is threatened by rebel groups. Tuareg rebel group National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) has asked ECOWAS to mediate a cease-fire agreement to re-establish peace with the Malian government. MNLA has claimed control of the cities of Gao and Timbuktu, as well as the strategic city of Kidal. The Tuareg, who speak Tamasheq and represent 10 percent of the population of both Mali and Niger, “want government recognition and a share of uranium mining profits,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Some Tuareg have been armed by NATO weapons and trained by the US to fight terrorist organizations in the region. Reuters reported that the MNLA’s demands to separate from Mali and form a new state called Azawad have been rejected by the international community, who fear that the group’s ties to a separate Islamist militant group will have negative implications for regional security.
The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) expressed “deep concern” with the refugee situation because of the fighting in northern Mali. UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming explained that the conflict has implications for those living in the region: “They are telling us that they are fleeing because of generalized violence, but also mayhem in these towns and cities is increasing, the numbers of armed robbers, of instability…But, also, they are telling us that they had hopes that this coup might bring peace to the country and when they saw that this was falling apart, they decided to leave." The conflict in northern Mali has resulted in the displacement of more than 200,000 people over the past several decades, including 93,000 internally displaced persons. Approximately 2,000 new refugees have relocated to Burkina Faso and Mauritania since the coup.
For previous news on Mali, please see:
Malian Soldiers Suspend Constitution in Coup, Take Control of Television and Radio
BBC – Mali Coup: Rebels Seize Desert Capital Kidal
CNN – Mali Coup Leader Reinstates Constitution as Rebels Advance
Los Angeles Times – Who are the Tuareg and How Do They Fit into the Coup in Mali?
Reuters – Mali’s Tuareg Rebels Say Military Operations Over
Voice of America – Thousands Flee Mali After Coup