News

Mali’s Embattled Junta Reinstates Constitution

Malian junta soldiers stand guard at their headquarters in Kati, outside Mali's capital Bamako, April 1, 2012.
Malian junta soldiers stand guard at their headquarters in Kati, outside Mali's capital Bamako, April 1, 2012.
Nancy Palus

The military government in Mali has announced an immediate restoration of the Constitution and says it will organize a return to civilian rule.

Some residents of Bamako called the junta leader’s declaration a turning point that gives hope that order will be restored and Mali will avoid harsh economic sanctions that were to go into effect Monday.  

But the announcement was made in the shadow of the Tuareg rebels' advance on the ancient city of Timbuktu on Sunday. As journalists awaited the declaration of Captain Amadou Sanogo, one after another received calls from colleagues and relatives in Timbuktu, with accounts of explosions, gunfire and widespread looting.

The Tuareg Uprising

  • Tuaregs are an ethnically Berber, nomadic people in West Africa's Sahel and Sahara regions.
  • Tuareg fighters have staged multiple uprisings in Mali and Niger for greater autonomy.
  • Current Mali rebellion began in January after Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they fought for Moammar Gadhafi.
  • The conflict has driven about 100,000 Malians to neighboring countries, internally displaced more than 90,000.
  • Losses to Tuaregs prompted soldiers' coup in Bamako Thursday March 22.
Source:Encyclopedia Brittanica, ICRC, France 24

In his prepared statement, Captain Sanogo said the junta is “very concerned” about developments in the north and determined to defend at all costs Mali’s territorial integrity. But his main point was to announce the return to Constitutional rule.

He said, we make the solemn commitment to re-establish, from today, Mali’s 1992 Constitution and the institutions of the republic.

He went on to talk about elections.

He said considering the multi-dimensional crisis Mali is facing and in order to allow a peaceful transition and preserve national cohesion, the junta is committed, with the mediation of the regional bloc ECOWAS, to consult with all national actors to put transitional institutions in place and organize peaceful, free and democratic elections in which the junta will not participate.

Asked by a journalists who currently holds the presidency in Mali, Sanogo only replied “After the national convention.”  

But the coup leader gave no timetable.

That is a concern, says the head of the International Crisis Group in West Africa. Gilles Yabi says Captain Sanogo’s statement is a step in the right direction and shows the fruits of the negotiations with ECOWAS, but it leaves many questions unanswered.

"There is a lack of clarity about the modalities of the transition and about the time when Captain Sanogo and the junta will actually relinquish power to a civilian government.  So I think it is a method for the junta to buy some time."

Yabi said the more urgent challenge right now for ECOWAS is that armed groups are dividing the country by force.

"Now the immediate challenge is probably the situation in the north where basically the three administrative regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal are now in the hands of the Tuareg rebels and other armed groups and that is really jeopardizing the integrity of Mali and it is very difficult to see how ECOWAS can respond to that challenge at the same time."

ECOWAS threatened severe economic sanctions if the junta did not begin to hand over power by Sunday. Diplomatic relations flew off track last Thursday when a delegation of West African heads of state aborted a trip to Bamako to meet with the coup leader, citing security concerns as pro-junta youth demonstrated at the airport.

But by Friday a junta delegation - not including Captain Sanogo - traveled to Burkina Faso to meet with ECOWAS-designated mediator President Blaise Compaoré.  Burkina’s foreign affairs minister then came to Mali on Saturday for talks with the coup leader.

Soldiers ousted President Amadou Toumani Touré on March 22, denouncing what they called incompetence of the government’s response to the two-month-old rebellion.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs