Saturday, March 31, 2012

You want power? You can have it

A follow up on the recent military theft of power in Mali that overthrew the democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT)...

If you'll recall, the coup leaders insisted their action was solely motivated by the desire to stop the insurgency in the north of the country and to preserve Mali's territorial integrity. So what was one of the first acts committed by soldiers following the consolidation of the coup? The looting of the presidential palace.

Not that the country's territorial integrity has fared much better. The army has lost control of several key towns since the coup, most recently Kidal. The major northern town of Gao is also under assault.

The ruling junta calls itself the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy, a beautiful Orwellian name, since it was they who disestablished democracy in the first place.

Even as the French government formally condemned the coup, it was common knowledge that Paris had been considered ATT too lax in fighting against the Islamist insurgency. This has fueled speculation that the French may have had some role in the regime change. While there seems to be little concrete evidence to that effect, the long history of La Françafrique nourishes such suspicions.

Black Looks blog offers a fresh perspective on the events.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mali coup undermines country's stability, security

It was very disappointing to hear about the military coup in Mali by junior officers, which overthrow the democratically-elected president Amadou Toumani Touré (known popularly as ATT). ATT was set to give up power following elections scheduled for next month.

 Mali had been a more or less stable, reasonably well-run democratic state for 20 years. But in recent months, the north of the country had fallen into the grips of a rebellion by a Tuareg splinter group affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). Following a 2009 peace agreement, many of these fighters crossed the border into Libya to act as mercenaries for Muammar Gadhaffi. When that regime fell earlier this year, they streamed back into Mali.

I'd become aware of the latest Tuareg rebellion but did not realized it had undermined the state's authority that quickly.

It’s also known that France has believed that the Malian government was too lax in dealing with the rebellion and was concerned about AQIM's increasing influence. France was also annoyed that ATT's government had denied offers of military assistance in combating AQIM, forcing the European country to set up shop in Niger instead.

As a result, there are rumblings that France may have had some role in the coup... a plausible claim given the country's meddlesome history in Africa.

Though, as a BBC analyst pointed out, the coup may not have been well-thought out by thits leaders. The purported rationale was that the government was not sufficiently arming and training the military to deal with the rebellion, but the US and EU countries will now be forced to cut military aid to the country until constitutional order is restored.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shaming AIDS victims

A story broke recently whereby authorities in Tanzania will require all students with AIDS to wear an identifying red ribbon. Officials claim that it's for the students' own benefit: they will not have to do physical tasks. However, the move was quickly denounced by AIDS activists in the country and abroad who complained that the move would stigmatize the children. They also denounced it as a grotesque invasion of privacy.

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