Sunday, April 08, 2012

Phil Paine on bad news from Timbuktu

Phil reports:

I have a personal interest in Timbuktu (see blog for Mar 7, 2006), so I have followed, as best as I can, the recent events in Mali that affect it.  After the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, several hundred young Tuareg who had been serving as mercenaries in his army have returned to Niger and Mali. Along with them came a large stock of weapons.  This re-ignited the low-level civil war which had come to an apparently satisfactory peace settlement in 2009.  Disatisfaction with the response to this renewal of violence seems to have triggered a coup d’état by the country’s military against the democratically elected government. As a consequence of the instability following the coup, the “National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad” (MNLA) quickly occupied the three largest northern towns (Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal) and declared an independent state of Azawad, cleaving away the thinly populated northern half of Mali.

Few events in the last few years have depressed me as much. Mali had lifted itself by its bootstraps from an intensely repressive Marxist dictatorship, heavily involved in the slave trade, to become West Africa’s most promising democracy. Now that promise is evaporating.

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