9 July 2013

Mali: Who Will Be the Promoter of Peace?


Three weeks ago, both the Malian government and Tuareg rebel groups signed an Agreement to end their differences and to open the way for the establishment of peace in northern Mali provinces, strongly affected by long months of war, instability and chaos.

The implementation of the Agreement has already begun. However many observers continue to wonder which party - states or organizations - will be willing to sponsor, facilitate and ensure the integration of former rebels and their total commitment to the peace process. Indeed a peace promoter is essential to the consolidation of any peace process.

On Friday 5 July, the Malian army has retaken Kidal, the Tuareg insurgents stronghold in the north of the country. About 200 Malian soldiers arrived at the military base on board of a convoy of twenty pickup trucks.

The signing of the Agreement between the Malian government and the rebels on 18 June in Ouagadougou, is inter alia intended precisely to allow the army to take position in Kidal before the forthcoming presidential election.

Bamako wanted the civil administration Authority as well as the Malian army to be back in the city by the 28 July election. That election is expected to complete the formal return to the constitutional order after the military coup March 2012.

Supported by the international community, the mediation led by President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels two groups has finally been successful.

A preliminary peace agreement was signed on Tuesday, June 18, between Bamako and two Tuareg groups, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA). To formalize it, a ceremony was organized at the presidential palace in Ouagadougou.

The technical details of the Agreement are being defined and implemented through direct negotiations between the Malian government and the representatives of Tuareg parties. So far, there are no major problems, but like any post-conflict situations, deadlocks may arise at any time and require special education and special treatment.

While it is true that the Mali crisis was conducted brilliantly on both the military and diplomatic fronts, unexpected difficulties are not to be ignored or underestimated. The strengthening of the present situation calls for very substantial resources from the international community.To that effect a broad and pragmatic approach would be wise.

The interrelations between Maghreb and Ecowas states must be used to help the consolidation of the Agreement. In addition, together or individually, Algeria and Morocco could play the crucial role of peace " sprinkler "in northern Mali. In the recent past, Algiers has always played that role of peace enforcer and supervised Agreements between Bamako and the Tuareg movements.

This time, Algiers gives the impression of simply following the events, making some observers think of a traditional diplomatic game, which, its critics say, leave the door open to infiltration and manipulation.

To be honest, Algiers apparent disinterest in the Malian crisis could be dictated by the state of health of President Bouteflika. Still, Algeria remains formally opposed to any foreign intervention in the region.

And if Algiers and Rabat are not interested in playing a role, which state could take over and agree to bring water to sprinkle the new peace in northern Mali caring for the weak, the former rebels, and to be able to convince them to sincerely join the peace process. That state should be capable to contribute to their integration in the political game?

Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, president Centre4s wrote on June 25," Burkina Faso has already done a lot and continues. Though it has a well-established experience in these matters Algeria remains silent and, for obvious reasons, Libya is absent while Morocco plays discretion. What then can the Gulf States and Turkey bring to Sahel in matters of peace?"

He added, "at the centre4s, the nagging question is who will provide the carrot? The states of the region, ECOWAS and the Maghreb and also other such as France and the United States can not ignore that a lasting peace needs powerful sponsors."

If the Gulf countries are more concerned about the chaotic situation in the Arab world, particularly Syria and Egypt, Turkey, already committed in Somalia, is really well qualified and might well do the trick.

Here is one of the world leading emerging country with healthy economy and, moreover, sensitive to the situation of Muslim countries. A Muslim country, facing difficulties, Mali could well be on Ankara list of interests.

But on which basis and how to seek the involvement of Turkey to address the former Tuareg rebels situation? The United Nations, which is managing the peace process and trying to rehabilitate the Malian institutions under the presence of a Special Representative of the Secretary General, could indeed call on Turkey for support.

Until this idea takes its way, it should be accepted that the Ouagadougou Agreement needs to be strengthened by such an "informal" assistance. That assistance goal is to help integrate the former rebels through " physical, financial and even protocol" contributions, such as invitations to attend special events abroad, diplomatic passports ... in short, carrots to the ex rebels.

At this modest price, mediators could manage to maintain peace in northern Mali and avoid relapses.

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