In apparent threat to democratic structures, Col. Assimi Goita who led Mali’s 2020 coup declared himself the country’s President after yet another coup, which is the second in nine months. Before the declaration, Goita detained Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and President Bah Ndaw. The duo were arrested along with other government leaders a few hours after the president named a new Cabinet.
Goita who has been serving as the transitional vice president since September 2020 after he led a military coup, assumed full control of the country when he deposed the president and prime minister in an unprecedented move. Although as the head of the military junta, Goita had promised to proceed with the plans for elections in 2022, there are concerns that the election will not be free and fair as fears of interference loom.
However, should African leaders and the regional organisations fail to rein-in the junta, the most recent political unrest may further destabilize efforts to control Mali’s long-running insurgency. This is what agitates the minds of many as Mali navigates through its current political turmoil.
There are reports that the United Nations spends no less than $1.2 billion annually on a peacekeeping mission in Mali even as France’s military has spent eight years trying to stabilize the country.
Clearly, the current political uncertainty in this West African country will no doubt have a devastating effect on the residents when one takes cognizance of the fact that Mali is one of the ten poorest nations of the world. That country is among the 37 heavily indebted poor countries in the world and not surprisingly, relies heavily on aid from different organisations including World Bank and the African Development Bank.
This is a nation with an economy based predominantly on agriculture with a rural population that largely depends on subsistence farming. Political instability currently playing out certainly is certainly not what Malians who currently battle the vagaries of poverty and insurgency expect. If anything, the nation deserves a stable polity that will give residents the latitude to freely engage in gainful economic activities.
Undoubtedly, in our opinion, the need for political stability that will allow residents of Mali to engage in harnessing the nation’s vast mining potentials and other viable agricultural venture is paramount at this time.
We admit the fact that there was some discontent with the former president. Of course, such is to be expected. That was the main reason why machinery was set in motion for elections so that people can freely choose whoever they wish. Goita’s coup is certainly not part of the solution.
With nearly half of the inhabitants living in extreme poverty, the coup may push the nation further into chaos. It is good that world powers have threatened sanctions but we are worried that such actions may ultimately have a more devastating impact on the poor masses who are already feeling the negative impact of the raging instability.
As it often happens, the political actors responsible for the instability rarely feel the effect of such sanctions. It is sad that in this era and time, in spite of the devastating effect of poverty and other diseases, occasioned by worsening levels of insecurity in most of the African countries, the continent still has to contend with military coups.
From 2010 to date, there are no fewer than 30 reported cases of coups or attempts to embark on coups in Africa. We wonder if this ugly and utterly worrisome scenario bothers African leaders in any way. To say that military coups that were the defining features of the African continent at the dawn of the 20th century, are no longer fashionable, is an understatement. The characters in Mali must be made aware of this.
Most African countries are ravaged by poverty and endemic corruption, the twin factors that are responsible for the backwardness of the continent in this age of science and technology. This unfortunate situation is compounded by poor leadership.
This newspaper believes that there is a compelling need for all the stakeholders to ensure a return of civil structure in Mali while enforcing the conditions necessary for a credible election. Without prejudice to the country’s sovereignty, we urge all African regional organisations-ECOWAS, AU and indeed, the continent’s leaders of thought, to closely monitor events in Mali and other African countries with semblance of political instability.
But most importantly, all the actors in the political crisis in Mali must come together for the peace and unity of the country more so as most parts of the country are in the hands of insurgents.