- War and political crisis in Mali
Given the growing insecurity in the Mopti, region, I made a turning in on Bamako to save my family and my work materials.
After the capture of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu in northern Mali, Tuareg rebels and Islamists was directed to south. They want to impose Sharia (islamic law) in Mali and West Africa. Mali’s population is Muslim for 90% but Malian culture can not accommodate with Sharia.
On Saturday, March 31st, the Mopti population was panicked and people began to flee to Bamako and every were. In 24 hours Mopti was emptied from 2/3 of its inhabitants. Then, I decided to evacuate my family which left on Sunday .Since there was a lot of looting and banditry in the cities conquered by the rebels, I decided to go the same day in the afternoon with the most important of my working hardwires (camera, tripod, wireless microphone, laptop, batteries and chargers , etc.). I haven’t been able to transport the generator, the scanner and printer. The house keeper stayed there with my motorbike. I told him to go with the motorbike in the in the Dogon Country (where he is from) in case of rebels attack,
For now the rebels haven’t attacked Mopti; there is a ceasefire. They said in the media that Mopti is not among their targets and stopped at Douentza (150 km from Mopti).
Bamako has recovered safety after the coup. The only problem is the ambargo ruled against Mali by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to force the junta to leave. Mali’s population will suffer a lot with the economic consequences of this embargo. The neighboring ECOWAS countries (which are 5) have closed their borders with Mali. As a continental country without outlet to the sea, Mali will asphyxia in 2 weeks (no more fuel, rice, sugar , etc.) unless the junta decided to step down . Pushiests are severely weakened by international pressures and military defeats against the rebels.
This crisis is no longer a problem for Mali alone; no country in West Africa is safe in this war. That is why ECOWAS is preparing a military intervention in Mali, eventually against the junta but especially against Tuareg rebels and Islamists.
France and NATO have a responsibility in this war by the bombing of Libya. Weapons parachuted in Libya by the French military aviation are now used against Mali. France also has an interest in protecting its 4500 citizens who stayed in Mali despite the crisis. According to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, France will provide logistical support for the ECOWAS military intervention.
For now, I still do the editing of footage I collected in the delta. I’ll get an internet subscription with the company Orange Mali to allow me uploading my stories from Bamako before the calm in Mopti. I plan to do reporting in the southern Delta ( Djénné area) which is not yet affected by insecurity. I’m monitoring the situation with my colleague AlMoustapha Maïga from Wetlands who stayed in Mopti.
I am available for the trip in Oregon because I am optimistic about the reopening of borders before date of the trip. If this is not OK, I can make the trip through Morocco. It is also possible to travel from Burkina and Cote d’Ivoire despite the closure of their borders with Mali. Border populations of different countries who belong to the same ethnic group do not know the concept of borders. I am fortunate to be from the southern part of Mali near the northern Côte d’Ivoire and not also far from Burkina Faso.
I would like to begin the process for U.S. J-1 visa request and for that I need documents from the University of Oregon and IUCN-NL.
I remain optimistic regarding the crisis in Mali because of the following reasons:
1 - The problem of the junta can be solved in the coming weeks or by the consequences of the embargo or the ECOWAS military intervention .
2 - It is possible rebels don’t come to Mopti because they have already achieved their objective which is to control of three northern regions of Mali ( Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu.)
3 – The Malian people have hope in the intervention of ECOWAS with the support of France for leaving junta and ending the danger from rebels and Salafists.