Towards Sustainable Peace in Mali

2013-02-16 15:10

As France and troops from the region together with Malian armed forces eject the Islamists in northern Mali, what is severely lacking is a viable political and socio-economic strategy to complement the military advances on the ground. In order to craft a complementary socio-political strategy to complement the military component, a holistic perspective needs to be adopted.

Without such a holistic perspective, history is unfortunately bound to be repeated as we have also already seen in 1963-1964, 1990-1996 and 2006-2009 when Tuareg nationalists fought against the rule of an uncaring central government based in Bamako. Indeed understanding this history is central towards developing a viable political strategy to create an inclusive state. The call for a separate Tuareg homeland called Azawad, which has been so exploited by Islamists in the conflict, is not a new one but goes back to the 15th century when the Tuaregs were dislodged by an encroaching Songhai Empire. The calls for Azawad resonated once more on 28 December 1893 when French troops entered Timbuktu and compelled the Tuaregs to be part of an alien and alienating Malian state.

Sustainable peace in Mali would also be unattainable if sufficient attention is not paid to the underlying structural conditions fuelling the conflict. Consider one such variable – that of poverty. Whilst the average poverty rate in Mali is 64 percent, the figure for the Tuareg dominated north is much higher. In the northern cities of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal the poverty rates are 77 percent, 78.7 percent and a staggering 92 percent respectively.

The ejection of the Islamists in northern Mali should, however, be seen as the first step towards a long-term strategy to bring about sustainable peace in this troubled country. Some degree of autonomy needs to be worked out for the indigenous Tuareg in the north while, at the same time, such autonomy should not work against non-Tuareg people in the north – notably the Songhai and Fulani.

Real economic development needs to be prioritized, with a special focus on providing the youth in the region with suitable skill sets to partake in a modern economy. The pressing issue of desertification, which constitutes an existential threat to the pastoral Tuareg way of life, should also be tackled. Programmes aimed at countering violent extremism need to be intensified for the whole of Mali.

Democracy needs to be consolidated with a special focus on real checks and balances on the executive, as well as ensuring proper civil-military relations. Only in adopting such a holistic approach can a repeat of the tragic events of 2012 be avoided.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.