Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mali coup undermines country's stability, security

It was very disappointing to hear about the military coup in Mali by junior officers, which overthrow the democratically-elected president Amadou Toumani Touré (known popularly as ATT). ATT was set to give up power following elections scheduled for next month.

 Mali had been a more or less stable, reasonably well-run democratic state for 20 years. But in recent months, the north of the country had fallen into the grips of a rebellion by a Tuareg splinter group affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). Following a 2009 peace agreement, many of these fighters crossed the border into Libya to act as mercenaries for Muammar Gadhaffi. When that regime fell earlier this year, they streamed back into Mali.

I'd become aware of the latest Tuareg rebellion but did not realized it had undermined the state's authority that quickly.

It’s also known that France has believed that the Malian government was too lax in dealing with the rebellion and was concerned about AQIM's increasing influence. France was also annoyed that ATT's government had denied offers of military assistance in combating AQIM, forcing the European country to set up shop in Niger instead.

As a result, there are rumblings that France may have had some role in the coup... a plausible claim given the country's meddlesome history in Africa.

Though, as a BBC analyst pointed out, the coup may not have been well-thought out by thits leaders. The purported rationale was that the government was not sufficiently arming and training the military to deal with the rebellion, but the US and EU countries will now be forced to cut military aid to the country until constitutional order is restored.

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