16 April 2012

News roundup: Mali

For those interested, I just posted a summary to MetaFilter of several current articles on the Mali situation, and I put enough effort into it that I thought I'd post it here as well.

Completely unsurprisingly, the situation in Mali is kind of dominating the news here in Burkina. Here are some of the articles published today for the francophones, and synopses in English for the rest:

Summary of the negotiations this weekend: about eighty Malians participated, representing the elected government, the junta, and civilian leaders. The two topics were a roadmap to power transition and the Tuareg rebellion. As for the former, they will stick to the agreement from April 6th which puts Traoré in power and makes anyone participating in the transitional government ineligible in the next elections, but whether the transition period will be only forty days as originally agreed will depend on the resolution of the rebellion. As to that resolution, all agree it needs to include humanitarian aid as soon as possible. They call for the immediate "restoration of the integrity of the territory" (read here: surrender of the rebels), saying everyone participating should remember their "duty to protect the civilian populations," lay down their arms, and look for "republican" solutions.

Slightly more detail on the structure of the agreement, which is broken out into 17 recommendations focusing on three main points: ending the rebellion (this section uses the exact same language as the above article); transitioning power by recognizing the 6th April agreement, creating a "national unity government," and creating new ministerial departments to focus on humanitarian efforts; and creating some sort of monitoring body, overseen by an international mediator.

This article discusses the wider political impact of the choice of a mediator, mentioning that the representative of the interim Mali government at the weekend talks asked that the Mauritanian president participate in negotiations with the Tuaregs (that's the same guy as in this article (cheers, nangar) last link, where he explicitly says he's open to the establishment of a new country, but adds that he is ready to commit troops to fight the terrorists of AQMI, inviting European intervention as well). The author expresses some doubt that Aziz and Compaoré (the president of Burkina Faso, and current mediator between the junta and constitutional authorities, nominated by ECOWAS) will work well together but notes that Mauritanian involvement may be beneficial given their nearer geographic proximity to the territories being fought over.

Here's a discussion of the humanitarian crisis caused by the Tuareg rebellion, or at least of the difficulty in addressing it. Ansar Dine has announced that they will open corridors to humanitarian aid - as long as said aid is "halal"; that is, from Islamic nations only. They won't accept any aid from Europe or the US. The author speculates that they may be concerned that any corridors they open will become routes for gun-trafficking. He or she then says that Ansar Dine is being hypocritical because they already use Western technology, and that in any case they should focus on accepting any aid that feeds the hungry in their territory if they want any claim to legitimacy. The conclusion of the article is that if they hold to this demand, they are planting the seeds of their own destruction, when hunger overcomes fear.

The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs came to Burkina Saturday to offer the king's support to Compaoré toward ending the Mali conflict. He also offered monetary support for humanitarian aid to the Malian refugees in Burkina.

So, yeah. A lot of interested parties are talking with each other. But so far not with the Tuaregs.

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