Despite negotiations between rebel groups that seized control of Northern Mali and the new authorities of Bamako, as well as the humanitarian emergency caused by the conflict, continues in both the vast northern regions and neighbouring nations.
In addition, international Non-Governmental Organisations have launched an alert over the drought, lack of provisions, water, fuel and medical supplies suffered by the people who didn’t manage to escape. Populations who are not even aided by aid workers, have been forced to suspend their activities due to the political-military uncertainty in Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. A desperate situation is also faced by the 268,000 people who so far have fled from North Mali, crossing each day by the hundreds into Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria.
Testimonies gathered by local MISNA sources, missionary and humanitarian, indicate a widespread sentiment of “panic and fear” among the people “shocked after fleeing and the long trip”, but especially over the fact of “not having news from loved ones”, “forced to leave behind everything”, seeing “their homes, land, crops or other activities looted and destroyed” by militias that two weeks ago took control of the main cities.
“The self-proclaimed state of the North is a state without laws, where members of the National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA) violate human rights and loot, and the Islamic groups such as Ansar Din are attempting to impose at all costs the Sharia, in a country that is a lay Republic”, Moctar Mariko, president of the Malian human rights association (AMDH) told MISNA. The activist stressed that the protagonists of the conflict, who are in turn rivals because they don’t share the same objectives, act in a paradoxical manner, but with the civil population paying the price for these contradictions.
On one side, the Tuareg of the MNLA, and on the other the Ansar Din Islamists (linked to the AQMI), are both are seeking consensus among the people who remain. The MNLA distribute fuel and t-shirts, aiming to explain the objectives of their struggle. The Ansar Din are focusing on the security of the people, providing an emergency number to contact in case of thefts, threats or abuse by the militants. They also pledged the prompt opening of humanitarian corridors to allow the distribution of aid, under the condition it does not arrive from France or the US.
The current view of events in the North and March 22 coup in Bamako is worlds apart from that depicted in the FORAM manifesto. “The events in Northern Mali were favoured and facilitated by the government of President Amadou Toumani Touré for outside interests, in particular western and French”, said to MISNA Clariste Soh-Moube, a Cameroon national who has lived in Mali for years and author of the book “The Trap”, translated into Italian and published by ‘Infinito Edizioni’.
“The act of the junta headed by captain Amadou Haya Sonogo was the only possible reaction of the young soldiers sent to a sure massacre”, added the writer, rejected several times in Ceuta and Melilla in her attempts to reach Europe. “At the same time, the coup may represent an opportunity for the population to take back power from a corrupt administration, which dragged the nation into economic and cultural poverty, stealing and promoting external interests, and that was preparing the end of April elections to perpetrate the same plastic democracy”.
The FORAM manifesto denounces the indifference of the international community that “didn’t appear too concerned over the atrocities committed in Aguelhok against unarmed soldiers, nor over the occupation of one city after another in the North, but didn’t hesitate to condemn a coup that it deems more unacceptable because carried out in a ‘leading nation in democracy’ ahead of a presidential election. This view, simplistic as well as sensational on a media level, is perfect for those who are convinced that Mali was so far an exemplary democracy”.
According to the African intellectuals, what is occurring in Mali is clearly “a new phase of the recolonization of the country through neoliberal policies”, reproducing the “Libyan scheme of the NATO intervention”, exploiting the Tuareg rebellion or better “taking advantage of the weakness of the army and closing an eye on the advance of heavily equipped rebels with weapons from Libyan arsenals”.
The FORAM also stresses the “farce” of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) with its “strong intervention – perceived as a representation of western interests in the area – against the coup, but absent until yesterday against the rebellion in the North”. The disputed northern regions of Mali attract wide interests. They are territories theatre to human trafficking, but also of weapons and drugs, but also rich with mineral resources such as gold, uranium and oil.
“France expects to obtain from the future Republic of Azawad what it was refused by President ATT: the highly strategic base of Tessalit, on both an economic and military level; a relentless battle against illegal immigration and the AQMI”.