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Mali and the French indecency

Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France

2012-04-05, Issue 580

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How can these westerners be so cynical to oblige people they formerly colonised to use their democratic paradigm whilst their countries are grappling with the same model that hides xenophobia, unbridled racism, injustice and misery?

Following the military coup perpetrated some days ago in Mali, before Malian and French presidential elections in forthcoming weeks, ministers of the French government appealled for the “re-establishment of the constitutional order”. The minister of Foreign Affairs and the minister of cooperation therefore confirmed that “the return to the constitutional order was an absolute imperative”.

However, what constitutional order are they talking about? The Malian president since his election in 1991 was not able to set up an accountable, strong and independent executive power. Therefore, if this coup is deemed to be a “nonsense” by many, no one is surprised about it, “as much as the security problem of the country seems to be out of control of president Touré”, specified Aminata Traoré at the Radio France International (RFI).

Since some months ago, the Malian army was facing, without equal military power, an armed rebellion that has captured a number of towns in the north of Mali under the leadership of the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA), essentially made of Touareg fighters. This movement has acquired weapons freely smuggled from Libya, at the borders of the two countries; this is a tangible consequence of the NATO intervention favoured and claimed by France.

This intervention has opened the Pandora’s box of the Libyan arsenals in an extremely poor region, that has a strong potential, but which remains abandoned. No economic development, no service delivery to local populations was assured. The standoff has been amplified by economic programmes imposed by international financial institutions. Added to this are the structural adjustments, the orientation of export-driven agricultural production, the systematic openness of the Malian economy to the world market imposed on a state that is unable to resist, but constrained to accept a liberalism that excludes free movement of the people.

A part from the Maghreb buffer-states, which are given the task of hampering migrant transit, the home countries of migrants are playing the role jail-states for their own citizens. Hence, Europe does a proxy on its incapacity to provide an answer to the migration problem in externalising its politics of repression so as to contain the influx of migrants. France on her side, regardless of all she can say, continues her colonial paradigm of French-African opaque relations and the guilt-blurred partnership between French and African elites that allow for the looting of Malian resources. The interests of former French colonialists have been preserved and foreign interests are the most dominant ever.

As for the socio-economic side, the management of the country is a continuous disaster; and on the strategic side, the defence accords have allowed for the setting up of permanent bases; and in airports, police controls are done under foreign oversight, more specifically French.

Mali does not escape to the disgusting balance sheet: Malian people have not yet freed themselves from oppression, misery, injustice, abandonment that alienates them and they still live under a virtual yoke of the former colonial masters.

Yet, Mali has a rich history and her geographical position should have prevented Western countries’ and their allies’ influences. Now, the country is faced with the boiling Arab world and a Europe that is going through a systemic crisis. Mali should have been the factor of positive stabilisation in a coveted region and targeted by the new ultraliberal order of misery and violence. Mali should have played the role of antidote to balkanisation in West Africa.

Mali will not be what we expected; the way paved by the wind of independences was trapped by the creation of new states and the poisoned colonial heritage of ethnic conflicts.

The freedom for which people fought for is still confiscated by a political leadership supported by the former colonial masters. The domination has only changed its appearance; the emancipation of people who were colonised is still to come. The former colonial masters are still in charge and continue to rule supreme.

Mali is the current example. The same French ministers attempt to instruct with force and authority the country to remain in the elections programme that was scheduled for this month and insist that the elections be held as soon as possible because the authority must respect the constitutional electoral calendar, and that June 8 should be the deadline. They even asserted that there is no problem in organising this election since a provision in the Malian constitution stipulates that the speaker of the national parliament can sit in for the president of the republic if the latter is not in the position of keeping up with his state duties.

How can these westerners be so cynical to oblige people they formerly colonised to use their democratic paradigm whilst their countries are grappling with the same model that hides xenophobia, unbridled racism, injustice and misery?

The colonial domination, coupled with some variations and adaptations has renewed itself and is undertaken in a mere good neo-colonial consciousness. It has been made possible thanks to the instrumentalisation of the “eternal war” and generalised by the extra-continental concept of terrorism that authorises, on the ground, the presence of foreign military forces in order to protect the interests of multinational corporations. Are these foreign forces going to intervene in Mali in the name of the illegal “responsibility to protect” so as to control for their own profit the Sahelian land that has mineral potential not yet explored.

It is sad to notice that the neo-colonial period is set to end with an unfortunate note of recolonisation, taking new shapes, but made possible by time bombs left by colonial powers. Yesterday, it was Sudan; today it is the turn of Mali and tomorrow? The partition of some African States seems clearly inscribed in the ongoing neo-colonial project.

While the world is staggering under the yoke of the economic and financial crisis in the name of the implementation of the new unilateral world order, ordinary people are the direct victims of this unbridled, inhumane and violent liberalism. In the name of an unjust and illegal globalisation, people a deprived the right to own their resources. The recolonisation of the World is one of the means the powerful nations found to ensure their hegemony.

Solidarity with the people of Mali and their real political forces for a national and autonomous resolution of their internal conflicts is the right route for justice and peace.


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* Translated from French for Pambazuka News by Medard Abenge.
* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

Readers' Comments

Let your voice be heard. Comment on this article.

You are obviously not a specialist of Mali...
You write: "Since his election in 1991, the Malian President..." Well, there was no election in 1991, quite the opposite, the military dictatorship was toppled and free elections set in 1992. Elections have been held in 1997, 2002 and 2007. Amadou Toumani Toure, who has been deposed by the coup, was elected in 2002.
You also write: "on the strategic side, the defence accords have allowed for the setting up of permanent bases; and in airports, police controls are done under foreign oversight, more specifically French."???? This is laughable. There are no foreign "permanent bases" in Mali (unless you are confusing Mali with Senegal, Ivory Coast or Gabon) and police controls are not done under French oversight.
Sad to see an "article" with so many factual mistakes published.


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