By Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia
The world is suddenly paying attention to the oft-ignored North African country of Mali, as it is racked by its most recent in a long string of crises: a coup d’etat.
This political and constitutional crisis sits atop an already extremely vulnerable situation - a volatile mix of climate change, drought, food shortages, migration and immobility, armed insurrection and heavy weapons proliferation that threaten to plunge the country into a state of instability not unlike Somalia.
As the international community, including the UN Security Council, moves to act on this crisis, it will be important to consider all the identifiable sources of Mali’s insecurity in order to get the solutions right.
FROM MODEL TO MAYHEM?
Mali has been described by some as a benchmark country in Africa, where democracy had put down healthy roots over the past two decades. Yet on March 21, a military junta seized control of the government in Bamako, ousting the democratically-elected President Amadou Toumani Toure from power.
The rationale, according to military spokespersons, was that the government had failed to put a lid on the separatist Tuareg rebellion in the north. Soon after, on April 4, the UN Security Council issued a strongly-worded presidential statement condemning the coup, and urging military leaders to restore power to civilian control.
Since then, the coup leaders have committed to a framework agreement “for the restoration of constitutional order in Mali,” but a positive outcome remains uncertain.
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