A prominent politician in Mali has called for a six-month technocrat government to unify Mali before organizing elections to restore constitutional rule.
Cheick Traore, the leader of the African Convergence for Renewal (CARE) party and son of former President Moussa Traore, said the resurgent Tuareg rebellion in Mali’s north must be resolved before any international and local effort to restore constitutional rule.
“We should face first the unity of Mali then organize the elections properly to go back to a normal constitutional life,” said Traore. “Being president today, we will be facing the same thing that’s the problem in the northern part of Mali. So, if you love your country, let’s put it together first.”
Traore was one of the candidates vying for the presidency in the election originally set for later this month. That vote was derailed after President Amadou Toumani Toure’s ouster by soldiers frustrated by the handling of the Tuareg rebellion.
Traore criticized Malian politicians who, he said, “close their eyes” to the security challenges the country faces.
The United Nations estimates hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians have been forced to become refugees in neighboring countries following the resurgence of the Tuareg rebellion in January.
Earlier this week, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed harsh sanctions after the junta, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, failed to restore constitutional order before ECOWAS’ 72-hour deadline.
The fiscal and economic sanctions effectively cut Mali off from the rest of the region, as well as freeze all government bank accounts. The measures will make it difficult for the junta to keep the country running.
Traore sharply criticized the coup d’état as unacceptable, but warned sanctions will negatively impact citizens.
“I condemn ECOWAS’s decision because you put sanctions on a poor country… it’s Malians who will be suffering not [coup leaders]. It’s not by [imposing sanctions] that that they will relinquish power,” said Traore. “ECOWAS should [rather] put pressure on the army to return power to the civilians I’m all for that. But, they should adopt some strategies to the reality of the country.”
Traore called for dialogue involving all Malian stakeholders to come up with solutions to resolve the country’s problems.
“[We] should bring all of the forces in Mali together civilians [and] the military so that we can discuss and find a true solution to the problem. So that we can go quickly to the election in three or six months,” said Traore. “We all know that we cannot go to the election today because the country is divided.”