Mali Security UpdateJune 28, 2013 in Africa, Mali
Mali’s ex-junta leaders has asked for forgiveness a year-and-a-half after the coup he led destabilized the entire country. Presidential elections in Mali remain to be uncertain while the United Nations Security Council has confirmed that a UN peacekeeping force will be deployed to Mali at the start of July.
Captian Amadou Sanogo, the military chief who led the coup that destabilized Mali last year, indicated during a reconciliation ceremony between rival army factions that he wanted “to ask for forgiveness from Malians as a whole.” The event which was held on Wednesday was aimed to heal the split between the rival army factions. Amongst those who attended the event was Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traore, where he announced that all the soldiers who had been arrested after trying to stage a counter-coup in May 2012 have since been released.
In March 2012, Captain Sanogo headed the forces that would eventually overthrow the regime of President Amadou Toumani Toure. Political and economic instability followed while a French intervention was launched in January 2013 in order to combat an advancing Islamist militant threat. International troops quickly moved in to tackle al-Qaeda militants and their allies who took advantage of the chaos and gained control of the country’s vast northern desert region. The coup also created a rift amongst the pro-junta soldiers and those who were loyal to the former president.
Although France has began a gradual troop withdrawal in April this year, and has started to hand over security operations to a regional African force that was set up in order to help the Malian army provide security, Islamist militants have continued to lead guerrilla-style attacks, leading many regional and international states to have doubts about the security level in the country. Furthermore, although Tuareg rebels signed a peace deal, which was intended to help pave the elections on 28 July, with the interim Malian government, doubts about the upcoming elections have also increased, as many believe the country is not yet ready and stable enough in order to hold nationwide elections. Even as political parties rushed to meet the deadline for submitting their candidates, Mali’s electoral body voiced its doubts on Friday over the feasibility of holding the much-anticipated presidential poll in July as planned. President of the National Independent Election Commission Mamadou Diamoutene indicated on Friday that there were a number of challenges that remain to be resolved, stating that “the deadline for candidates to file expires today at midnight. An yet there are many obstacles for us to overcome. I have said it before and I will say it now: it will be very difficult to stick to the date of July 28.” Amongst the challenges is the fact that electoral ID cards only began being distributed on Friday, one month before the scheduled poll. Mali is a nation twice the size of France, and the country’s vast northern regions remains to be cut off from the rest of the country, consequently making it unlikely that the cards will be able to be distributed to all precincts in time. The cards are also missing key information, such as voters‘ polling locations.
What is certain is that a UN peacekeeping force will likely deploy in Mali from 1 July. Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council agreed that a 12,600 peacekeeping force, known as MINUSMA, should deploy at the beginning of July. The force will incorporate the 6,000 West African soldiers who are already in the country. It will aim to provide security for the election and will likely face security and political obstacles and will be deployed in extreme summer heat. It will also aim to provide security for the presidential elections.