Louise Ouimet, Former Ambassador of Canada to Mali: Some personal reflections on the situation in Mali

 After having worked in Mali for 8 years, during the period 1989-1993 and 2001-2005 and continued to follow the development of the country, I can only see today how much democracy, which was nevertheless a bearer of hope in the first pluralist elections in 1992, proved to be a sinkhole for this country. At independence, Malians modeled French institutions instead of taking the time to develop governance mechanisms and institutions of their own. At the start of the so-called democratization, we are once again copying the West and opening the floodgates to multiparty politics. What happens? More than 200 political parties are created – in fact agglomerations of people around valued personalities, with whom one has family, friendships, or other ties. Fortunately,

And what happens? The exercise of political power being essentially an exercise of personal enrichment for his family and for his clan, knowing that its duration is a maximum of two five-year terms and that it is necessary to finance electoral campaigns, corruption n ‘has stopped growing since the arrival of the multiparty system. This multi-party system based on relations has another perverse effect: the absence of renewal at the head of the parties. Several split up, but none questioned their leader because he had not won the election. So today we find largely the same political players as almost 30 years ago. It must be said that they were young at the time, doomed to a bright future. When there are well-structured political parties, they are quick to fire their leader after an electoral failure. Not in Mali,

The elections followed one another between 1992 and 2020 with a starving voter turnout. This lack of democracy has often been attributed to a lack of education. We have to take a closer look. It is in Bamako, where the proportion of literate people is the highest where we vote the least.

President Keita (IBK) was indeed elected in 2013, raising a lot of hope among the population grappling with the rise of terrorism. As early as 2014, I was told that he was in poor company, relying too much on his family. In 2017 I was told that the country was ruled by a mafia and that the only hope was that IBK would not run again in 2018. The list of what he was accused of was long, boiling down to not caring about Mali , but only from his trips abroad, not to strengthen the army which was badly needed and which had been stripped by his predecessors, and especially to squander the funds that Mali so badly needed to provide a minimum of services to citizens. He represents himself and wins the elections in 2018, elections again decried as fraudulent. The opposition protests, then everything is back to normal. Nothing changes. Still no peace in sight, on the contrary, a conflict which has spread to the center of the country is not running out of steam. The school is for subscribers who have disappeared, as has often been the case since 1992. The Algiers Peace Agreement of 2015 is neither applied nor improved. And the corruption happily continues. The Inclusive National Dialogue arrives at the end of 2019, which gives a certain legitimacy to the power in place, without offering new avenues for exiting the crisis. The legislative elections arrive in March and April 2020. Postponed several times due to insecurity and the need to modify the electoral code and The school is for subscribers who have disappeared, as has often been the case since 1992. The Algiers Peace Agreement of 2015 is neither applied nor improved. And the corruption happily continues. The Inclusive National Dialogue arrives at the end of 2019, which gives a certain legitimacy to the power in place, without offering new avenues for exiting the crisis. The legislative elections arrive in March and April 2020. Postponed several times due to insecurity and the need to modify the electoral code and The school is for subscribers who have disappeared, as has often been the case since 1992. The Algiers Peace Agreement of 2015 is neither applied nor improved. And the corruption happily continues. The Inclusive National Dialogue arrives at the end of 2019, which gives a certain legitimacy to the power in place, without offering new avenues for exiting the crisis. The legislative elections arrive in March and April 2020. Postponed several times due to insecurity and the need to modify the electoral code and

Take into account a new electoral division in accordance with the Algiers Accord. While none of these conditions are met and the COVID-19 is pointing its nose, shaking up the fight, the legislative elections are scheduled. We all know what happened at the end of the second round, when the Constitutional Court invalidated and ex officio changed the results to elect 31 deputies who were rejected according to the ballot box. One of them even becomes President of the National Assembly. In fact IBK used the same tactics that prevailed against him in the second round of the 2002 presidential election. Good prince, he had calmed his troops and accepted that a good number of his votes be annulled by the Constitutional Court . In 2020 it’s revenge.

Where are we in July 2020? There comes a time when too much is too much as they say. The invalidation of several electoral results by the Constitutional Court broke the camel’s back and the M5-RFP movement with the moral support of Iman Mahmoud Dicko was born to ask President IBK to resign, to abrogate the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court and to start again on new bases by setting up a transition. This movement gave President IBK the opportunity to remain in place, while delegating his power to a Prime Minister chosen by all the political actors. The refusal of IBK to withdraw from power and the mobilization of the anti-terrorist force FORCAT which fired live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, killing several, led to the hardening of the positions of the M5-RFP. It is also inexcusable that the movement of civil disobedience takes place in violence. A change is necessary and peaceful. Let us hope that the multiple mediations will eventually work.

What can or must the international community do? There is no point in hiding behind a Constitution that has been flouted so many times. First of all, admit that we have enriched ourselves at the expense of Mali, at least Canada with gold mining and certainly France, despite the heavy price paid by this country with the Barkhane force. Second, to dialogue with all political actors and encourage them to find a peaceful solution. My country, Canada, seems absent from the discussions in Bamako, at least the media do not report it, while Mali has been an important country for international cooperation for more than 40 years. Third, suspend budget support to such a corrupt regime and review the support mechanisms when a serious transitional government is put in place.

La Tribune Diplomatique

Read this article in French in the French version of the journal

Louise Ouimet , former Ambassador of Canada to Mali (2001-05) and Burkina Faso (1995-97) – July 21, 2020.

 

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