Mali: Are Guns Beginning to Play Drums in Africa?
A few years ago, the African Union (AU) stated that it would not recognize governments resulting from coup d’ Etats. Before long, the army took over in Mauritania in 2006. Nothing was done to kick the military regime out of office. Guinea followed. The army took over. It also happened in Niger. This was referred to as a good coup simply because it kicked out a dictator by instituting another. Recently, Amadu Toumani Toure of Mali was deposed just a month before he intended to step down due to the expiration of his constitutional two terms.
|Head of the military junta addresses the press Photo courtesy|
Did Toure conspire with the army to keep a grip on power? Did the army conspire to ruin the elections? What is the upshot of all this? Various media outlets attribute the coup to the spillover effects of the Libyan revolution as Malian Tuaregs who used to serve Muammar Gaddafi return home. After Gaddafi was overthrown and summarily executed by a mob justice; Malian Tuaregs allegedly left Libya with their weapons and formed a militant group named Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA).
While international media is branding the coup in Mali a spillover from Libya, Malians look at it differently. “The Libyan crisis didn't cause this coup but certainly revealed the malaise felt within the army," says Malian newspaper columnist Adam Thiam.
He adds, "President Amadou Toumani Toure hasn't been active in tackling drug trafficking and al-Qaeda fighters, and the emergence of new rebel movements only added to the soldiers' frustration." This speaks volumes.
Drug trafficking is not only dangerous for users but also for the governments that ignore it. In Tanzania in 2007, for example, one MP who questioned the ‘efforts’ that Tanzania’s government was taking to fight drug trafficking died mysteriously a few months after questioning the authorities. Drug barons can keep a president in power if they use him to rake money even by endangering his own people or kick him out if he doesn’t seriously take on them as in Mali. So no president is safer who either cooperate with drug barons or ignore them in this chutzpah.
The story does not end up there. Reasonable military personnel can decide to take over in order to address the anomaly or greedy one can decide to take over after being sidelined in this lucrative business. Sometimes they can do so for national security in Mali. This was echoed by Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, the coup leader when he said, "We are not here to confiscate any power but we are here to have an army and security forces available to assume the national security."
Africa has condemned coups and suspended affected member countries under military juntas even without looking at underlying reasons for coups. But is this enough? Can AU exert any pressure to any military junta considering the fact that it is bankrupt and dependent on donors among who are even drug barons and other international con men and criminals? Ironically, for the case of Mali, under Ecowas inititives, Burkinafaso’s president who got in power by the way of coup was selected to put pressure on the junta!
Does AU whose membership includes leaders who came to power through coups have the moral ground to ban or suspend coup makers? Does AU whose membership include people who came to power by means of ‘civilian coups,’ rigging elections or tampering with the constitutions have the moral authority to ban or suspend coup makers? Can such people, through their club, have moral authority to castigate recent coup makers?
Some presidents came to power by the barrel of gun. They include Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, Ethiopia PM Meles and Zenawi. Some presidents got in power just because their fathers were presidents. They include, Joseph Kabila, Foure Eyadema and Ali Omar Bongo. Others came to power through controversial or rigged.elections while others were legitimately installed by their citizenry.
Back to the coup in Mali, are coups coming back through the back door?
By Nkwazi Mhango
The author is a Canada-based Tanzanian and author of Saa Ya Ukombozi.
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