Mali ‘isolated junta has no option but to restore democracy’
--Democracy Institute sees exceptionally good signal
With Bamako on the verge of returning to constitutional order, the head of the Pretoria-based Institute for Democracy in Africa has said it sends a strong signal that “unconstitutional change of government is not acceptable anymore in Africa.”
Mali’s democracy took a big hit some three weeks ago, when the democratically elected President Amadou Toumani Toure was removed from power by soldiers led by Captain Amadou Sanogo.
But in an interview with West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) on Wednesday, the head of the Democracy Institute, Paul Graham lauded the prompt and overwhelming condemnation of the coup from across the continent.
“ECOWAS and the individual member countries very quickly made their feelings felt as quickly as strongly and the coup leaders found themselves absolutely isolated and in a position where restoring constitutional order seemed the only option,” Graham told WADR
The coup came just weeks before a scheduled presidential election that was set for April, in which President Toure would have handed over to the elected government, after completing his second and final term.
Mali’s coup also came after a series of military takeovers in the sub-region in recent years—Mauritania, Guinea and Niger.
But after strong pressure from the sub-regional bloc, ECOWAS, the AU and the international community, a deal has been reached to restore constitutional order, with the formal resignation of the deposed President and the naming of the parliament Speaker to head an interim government until elections are held.
“If there are democratic deficits,” the Director of the pro-democracy think-tank stressed, “they must be dealt with not by less democracy but by more democracy,”
Paul Graham analyzes the “exceptionally good signal” that the unfolding political developments in Bamako, as he appears on the WADR’s Newslink show hosted by Frank Sainworla.
Click audio below to listen
He praised Malians for demonstrating a level of political maturity and the Africans for their resolve in the wake of the political crisis sparked by the coup.
Division over how to end northern rebellion
In Mali itself, citizens are divided over whether the incoming civilian interim government should end the rebellion in the north, through military force or find a negotiated solution.
They told West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) in Bamako on Tuesday, that one of the key expectations they have for the incoming civilian interim government of Parliamentary Speaker Dioncounda Traoréis to end the rebellion in the north.
“In my opinion the use of the military forces is not the best solution to recover the lost territories. We must use dialogue to find a peaceful solution. A military operation could have negative impact not only on the rebels but also on the Malian population. That is why I am not for a military solution but rather a peaceful one,” a young Malian national said.
But another citizen has a different opinion on how to end the rebellion in the north.
“Right now negotiation is not the solution. There is no need to start negotiations.
If we are sure that an ECOWAS military force can solve the problem in Northern Mali, then I am for it and I think that it is the best solution.”
The MNLA rebels have not only captured the north, but they have also declared independence for the Azawad region, though they are yet to get recognition.
The junta had earlier justified the coup by saying the deposed President Amadou Toumani Toure did not adequately equip and support the Malian army to fight the rebels.