News / Africa

Mali Coalition Protests Proposed ECOWAS Troop Deployment

People holding banners take part in a protest called by the Coordination of Patriotic Organizations in Mali (COPAM) against a foreign military intervention in Mali to reclaim the Islamist-controlled north, September 28, 2012.People holding banners take part in a protest called by the Coordination of Patriotic Organizations in Mali (COPAM) against a foreign military intervention in Mali to reclaim the Islamist-controlled north, September 28, 2012.
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People holding banners take part in a protest called by the Coordination of Patriotic Organizations in Mali (COPAM) against a foreign military intervention in Mali to reclaim the Islamist-controlled north, September 28, 2012.
People holding banners take part in a protest called by the Coordination of Patriotic Organizations in Mali (COPAM) against a foreign military intervention in Mali to reclaim the Islamist-controlled north, September 28, 2012.
Peter Tinti
— Hundreds marched in the Malian capital of Bamako on Friday at Liberty Plaza to protest the proposed deployment of troops from West African bloc ECOWAS to Mali. The troops, if they come, would be used to retake northern Mali from al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants who seized control of the region in April.

The coalition COPAM, which backs the military junta that overthrew Mali's government in March, organized the protest following an agreement earlier this week between Mali’s interim government and ECOWAS.

The agreement leaves open the possibility for ECOWAS troops to be based just outside the capital as part of a broader plan to help retake the country’s north. Northern Mali fell to Islamist militants in the chaos that followed the coup on March 22 in Bamako.

ECOWAS' role in mediating the post-coup political crisis, as well as the prospect of foreign troops in the capital, has been unpopular among certain segments of the Malian public.

On Friday, the protestors chanted "Down with ECOWAS" and expressed a deep distrust of the organization and its motives. One of the protest organizers is Moussa Drame, who said he is against ECOWAS because it is a syndicate that only serves the interests of other heads of state.

According to Drame, the best solution is a national convention in which the international community stops imposing its will and allows Mali to find its own solutions. ECOWAS, Drame said, wants to keep Mali down.

Several protestors held up pictures of coup leader Amadou Haya Sanogo. Others displayed handmade signs that said “liberate our arms,” in reference to the heavy weapons ordered by Mali, but blocked by neighboring Guinea since July amid concerns that they could fall into the wrong hands. Another sign warned, “ECOWAS arrival triggers civil war in Mali.”

The demonstration was described by organizers as a “peaceful march,” with dozens of Malian police and armed forces present to provide security.

A COPAM protest on May 21 saw crowds storm the presidential palace, where they beat Mali’s 70-year-old interim President, Dioncounda Traore, unconscious.

As the occupation of the north nears its seventh month, however, support for COPAM and the public's resistance to ECOWAS military assistance both appear to be waning.  
COPAM, analysts say, is a "small but vocal minority" whose presence highlights the existing political tug of war in southern Mali that some say makes resolving the crisis in the north all the more difficult.

ECOWAS is seeking an intervention mandate from the U.N. Security Council. Mali was high on the agenda of a special Sahel session held in New York this week on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. World leaders remain divided on the question of military intervention.

France, along with several of Mali's neighbors, has called for the Security Council to pass a resolution authorizing intervention as soon as possible. The United States, however, maintains that Mali must first have a democratically-elected government before it can adequately address the crisis in the north.

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by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 29, 2012 12:08 PM
The rights of minorities is the question here. Mali army wants money and logistics only, not military intervention, what are those militants using to prosecute their campaign? The failure of an army that seeks political power should not delay the liberation of the region by posing obstacles on the way. The bottom line is islamization and jihad against minorities that do not accept islamic religion. Unfortunately these minorities have been suppressed and intimidated by use of force in a country they call their own and as is islamic, they have no rights as citizens even in their own country. The deployment of Ecowas military into the region will free the peoples and give them the rare opportunity to express themselves and feel like the rest of the world.

In Response

by: said tuareg from: italy
September 29, 2012 5:07 PM
I do not know what exactly the minorities Godwin is talking about. The population of Azawad territory are well know , they are Tuaregs as majority and indigenous people , Arabs , Peul, and Songhai ,


by: said tuareg from: italy
September 28, 2012 8:01 PM
i think that so- called crisis in north Mali never be solved with military intervention but military intervention would worsen the situation for many reasons ;
First Mali has repeatedly tried to solve this problem wi
th military action but she could not .
Second, at the moment there is no comparison between the capacity of MNLA troops and Malian army in terms of weaponization and military tactics. Mnla gained much weapons during the battle with Malian army in the north and among these weapons fatal ones of originally American made in addition to what they have collected through fifty years ago of the struggle . And the capacity and experience of M..N.L.A fighters in the Sahara desert make them( mnla fighters) highly outperform to Malian troops and African troops in general.
if it is really that West African States want send their troops to the north , they are going to commit a big mistake because this will encourage emergent of many tuareg fronts in the neighboring countries, Libya, Niger, Algeria, burkin faso, and there will be endless conflict. If west African States really want to solve this problem, they have to surrender to the reality that is the right of Azawad people to self-determination.

In Response

by: Bruce from: Bethlehem, USA
September 29, 2012 2:08 PM
It's unclear whether the MNLA even exists anymore as a military organization--interesting that "said tuareg" wrote a great deal about Azawad, but mentioned nothing about the Islamic militias that now control "said territory."

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