Transition to Stability in Mali

mali French troops mobilizing across Mali

Timbuktu, 03/21/2013 – Yesterday, it was reported that another French soldier has died in the ongoing conflict in Mali. A suicide bomber strapped a vest of explosives to himself near a French military checkpoint in Timbuktu and, upon detonation of his device, killed one French soldier. This marks the fifth death of a French soldier since their direct involvement began on January 10th of this year, and will certainly give France further motivation to end the conflict in Mali as soon as possible.

The struggle began with a military coup that dislodged the democratic leadership that had controlled the country. The military claimed that they were not being supplied with enough equipment and arms to combat the Tuareg rebels. Since Mali gained its independence in 1960, the Tuareg have staged many rebellions in an attempt to create their own country called Azawad, in northern Mali. Ironically, when the military took control of the government, they did not have the power structure to continue the governance of the country, creating a power vacuum that the Tuareg quickly took advantage of. With the Malian military occupied with the south and keeping power there, the Tuareg finally seized control of many northern cities. However, being that their fighting force was not incredibly strong, they were taken out of power by al-Qaeda linked radical Islamist groups. Once these groups had established themselves in northern Mali, they governed the area with a very strict interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law) that has caused many humanitarian inquiries. Among the new restrictions were bans on music, drinking, and smoking. They had also begun to destroy historical landmarks, calling them idolatrous due to their strict interpretation of the Qur’an, creating outrage in many cultural organizations worldwide. Since the cities then came under direct rule of radical militants, floggings, public executions, public stoning,and amputations had become commonplace. They also cut off access to utilities in many of the cities that they occupied, compounding the humanitarian disaster.

International Response

This succession of events led to the involvement of the international community and France in particular. The day after the military had declared control of the country, France sent a military force into the region that consisted of 2,150 troops. The United States supplied intelligence, air support, and monetary assistance, as the threat of a new haven for al-Qaeda is in direct conflict with their foreign policy. Many other countries combined including China, India, Senegal, and many others combined to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to the cause, with the EU contributing around 67 million euros.

mali Malians in Timbuktu before the civil war

The mission to re-establish a stable government to all of Mali has been incredibly successful thus far, mainly due to the French military presence in the region. They successfully took back control of Timbuktu, Gao, and finally Kidal, all of which were massive strongholds for these radical Islamist militants, and thus sites of immense humanitarian abuses. Kidal was the last major city to be controlled by the militants, and was a huge step for the French initiative.

Potential U.N. Involvement Moving Forward

Marc Fonbaustier
Herve Ladsous (left) with Marc Fonbaustier (right)

Now that the bulk of the conflict is over, France looks to the UN to take over with the peacekeeping force that had been suggested earlier in the conflict once it was a more stable situation. U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous (pictured above with French diplomat Marc Fonbaustier) had said that the UN would deploy a peacekeeping force “at the appropriate time.” He continued “I think that the Security Council will be looking at a resolution in the next two or three weeks and then we will move ahead for full deployment.” The force (expected to number around 6,000 members) is expected to be in place well before the July 31st elections as the country looks to restore the democracy that had stood since 1992. Some Malians, however, are uneasy about the force, fearing that it will create a divide between the north and south like Sudan. The international community hopes that they will accept the resolution so that Mali does not fall into chaos like many other African countries have when the French soldiers inevitably leave, which may be sooner rather than later given the latest death of one of their own and the stir that it has caused.

Infrastructure Development Necessary in the Maghreb

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March 14, 2013 – Two years and two months ago, the people of the Maghreb showed that they had had enough of the socio-economic conditions that were crippling the region. It began in Tunisia with their revolution, then spread like wildfire, igniting revolutions driven by hope of a secure political and economic landscape that would bring them out of the mess that their governments had created. Just over two years later, Tunisia is no longer at war, but the political and economic landscape is far from stable because nothing concrete has been done to ameliorate the collective situation of its people.

While the Tunisian politicians debate which party will have the most power, governmental structure, and whether or not they will officially be Islamic, the people who fought the revolution are being made to wait. Since the politicians are preoccupied creating the structure, it is up to the private sector to create the body that will occupy it when it is ready. Public works projects should be the first step in bringing Tunisia, and its revolutionary counterparts across the region, back to stability. It will supply jobs for civilians of all socio-economic situations, while providing immense benefits to the people and easing unrest.

“Preparing to welcome 200,000 people within three years, Kilamba has become one of the largest development projects in Africa…”

Since the economic situation in these areas is perilous, they may need to call upon foreign investors to aid them in accomplishing these projects. Pierre Falcone and Pierson Capital, an investment firm based in Chicago, funded the trans-maghreb highway in 2010. They have also taken the lead in the creation of an entire city called Kilamba outside of the capital of Luanda. By following this example of foreign direct investment, it will be much easier for these (and any recovering or developing country) to jumpstart their economies, and in politically charged areas like the Maghreb, appease the masses calling for progress. After two years of turmoil, if the population continues being denied any concrete progress, the government is liable to fall once more in favor of the chance that a new regime could provide it.

Although it may be up to private companies to take up the mantle, the governments of the Maghreb have significant pull over such corporations, as they have the ability to write policies that would make it more advantageous to build in their country than in others. If businesses see that building in North Africa is a good investment with favorable policies towards foreign investors, they are infinitely more likely to choose it as the location of their next project but it is up to the governments to choose the right path that will take their country out of the muck and towards a prosperous future.

President Andry Rajoelina and former Marc Ravalomanana: meeting after June 26, 2012

Pierrot RajaonariveloAnosy, June 12, 2012 — At a press briefing, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pierrot Rajaonarivelo (pictured on the left), gave journalists the following statement:

STATEMENT:
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Madagascar shall inform the public that the heads of state and government of the South African Development Community (SADC) met in a special session in Luanda (Republic of Angola) on June 1, 2012.

Addressing the Malagasy question, the Summit mandated the mediator of the SADC and Troika of the organization to facilitate the dialogue and urgently convene a meeting between Mr. Andry Rajoelina, President of the Transition, and Mr. Marc Ravalomanana, former President of the Republic. This meeting will ensure full implementation of the roadmap and create a climate conducive to holding elections, free and fair.

Taking note of this proposal from the SADC summit, the Government of the National Union had no objection to issuing such a meeting in a third country, after June 26, 2012. It is in fact desirable that everyone can prepare for this national holiday with some peace of mind.

Source: Andry Rajoelina Action
Photo Credit: MadaGate

Andry Rajoelina agrees to constructive meeting with Ravalomanana

Rajoelina and Ravalomanana During an SADC Summit meeting earlier this month, the 15 member countries agreed on the essence of facilitating a meeting between Madagascar’s transition President Andry Rajoelina and former President Marc Ravalomanana. Despite a three-year feud since the assumption of Rajoelina’s presidency, both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana expressed cooperation by putting their rivalries to rest .

At the 2012 International Tourism Fair of Madagascar, held on the day following the Summit, Rajoelina expressed his position on meeting with Ravalomanana, stating: “there is no trouble meeting if this meeting will bring peace and stability in the country.” With his country in mind, Rajoelina suggests his willingness to meet with Ravalomanana for a constructive discussion.

Ravalomanana, who is currently exiled in South Africa, indicated that he is “ready to meet Rajoelina at any time, anywhere, to reach agreement on outstanding issues.”

With both Rajoelina and Ravalomanana cooperating with the SADC’s efforts towards reconciliation, the two may soon see each other face to face for the first time in years. What will transpire at their meeting remains an interesting question. Will Rajoelina and Ravalomanana reach an agreement?

Source: Bloomberg
Photo Credit: MadaGate

France in Mada: Jean-Marc Chataigner replaced by Jean-Christophe Belliard

Andry Rajoelina and Jean-Marc Chataigner
The French amabassador in Madagascar, Jean-Marc Chataigner, is leaving his position in Madagascar to become vice-executive officer to globalization at the foreign affairs Ministry in Paris. Jean-Marc Chataigner has been a prominent figure of the 2009 malagasy crisis, personifying France’s stand during the conflicts. He has always been involved in Rajoelina’s cause.

The new ambassador is Jean-Christophe Belliard, a french diplomat known for being tough on the edges. Belliard has been around the african continent, as ambassador of France in Ethiopy, and later as ambassador of France at the AU. He is seen as the Mr Africa of new french president François Hollande. Moving Belliard to Madagascar is a sign that France wants to keep a strong hold on Madagascar.

Source: Newsmada