peter tinti

politics, culture and security in west africa

Category: burkina faso

Mali has war in January, elections in July. Is this too much?

CS Monitor

Malians vote Sunday with new biometric ID cards in a quickly cobbled-together election that some call ‘shambolic’ and others say is needed.

Bamako, Mali: The West African nation of Mali will hold presidential elections this Sunday, less than seven months after the French military intervened to drive Islamist rebels linked to Al Qaeda in the country’s north.

The West African nation of Mali will hold presidential elections this Sunday, less than seven months after the French military intervened to drive Islamist rebels linked to Al Qaeda in the country’s north.

As Malians prepare to go to the polls, however, a chaotic voter-registration process and lingering security concerns call into question whether the elections will be truly free and fair.

Mali’s interim government and the international community are betting that expedited elections that they have both pushed will help Mali move forward after nearly 18 months of instability.

Speaking to reporters in Paris earlier this month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon went so far as to say, “The results, even if the election is imperfect, must be respected by all parties.”

With Mali and the broader Sahel increasingly viewed as a place where Al Qaeda and its affiliates, as well as drug traffickers, may try to take advantage of porous borders and weak states, Mali stands as a test case for the international community’s commitment to the region.

Yet many commentators fear that rushed elections risk further destabilizing an already divided nation, and worry that the international community, particularly France and the United States, are favoring elections and the appearance of democracy over stability and good governance.

One Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the elections as a “calculated gamble,” suggesting that delaying the vote would “do little to fix any of the current problems and would potentially pave the way for new ones.”

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Will ‘historic’ ceasefire help put Mali back together again?

CS Monitor

A new deal brokered between Mali’s government and ethnic Tuaregs by the EU and UN diplomats along with regional players may be a key first step.

Conakry, Guinea: After months of destabilization caused by war, Mali has signed a ceasefire with separatist Tuareg rebels who hold towns in the remote north – clearing the way for national elections to be held in July.

“The agreement provides for an immediate ceasefire, paves the way for the holding of presidential elections nationwide and commits the parties to discussing sustainable peace in Mali,” said a spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after 10 days of negotiations in nearby Burkina Faso.

Under the deal, Malian troops would gradually begin to occupy the northern stronghold of Kidal, now held by various Tuareg rebels groups.

Tension between Malian authorities and Tuareg rebels have been a lingering problem since the French Army intervened in Mali last January.

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U.S. Debates Framework for Counterterror Operations in Africa

World Politics Review

As U.S. counterterrorism officials seek greater capability to combat terrorist groups in Africa, the Obama administration is considering asking Congress to approve expanded authority to allow military operations in places such as Mali, Nigeria and Libya, where perceived threats to U.S. security are proliferating.

Broad disagreements remain, however, regarding the nature of these threats and how best to engage them. The diversity of potential targets also raises legal questions, as many of the terrorist groups operating in Africa are not necessarily affiliated with al-Qaida’s flagship franchise, now located in Pakistan.

“The conditions today are vastly different then they were previously,” Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “There are now non-al-Qaida-associated groups that present significant threats to the United States.” Ham later said the debate over new authorization was a “worthy discussion.”

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Burkina Faso Awaits Election Results

Voice of America

DAKAR, SENEGAL — Vote counting is underway in Burkina Faso following Sunday’s local and legislative elections. These were the country’s first polls since anti-government protests last year and are seen as a key test for the ruling party.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore highlighted the importance of Sunday’s elections as he cast his ballot in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Compaore said parliament and local government are the pillars of democracy and rule of law, and voting on who will enter these posts is key to solidifying democracy and the nation. He said electoral reforms have been put in place to ensure the vote is free, fair and calm.

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