Where I Stand



Political Platform






The way a majority of Malians supported the coup against a corrupt government reflect the everyday Malian’s hunger for honest and transparent leadership. For long-term success, these values must be the core characteristics of a Malian government.

Statistics: The latest World Bank report put Mali at a rating of 3.50 in transparency and accountability on a scale of 1 to 6. Since 2006, Mali has remained stagnant with no new policies or laws being put in place to hold the government accountable.

Samaké’s Background: After winning the mayoral election in Ouélessébougou with 86 percent of the vote in June 2009, Samaké took over a municipality where the citizens had lost faith in honest leadership. At that time, less than 10% of the residents paid their taxes resulting in little funding available to support the payment of commune officials and investment in local schools, clinics, and other vital services. Samaké met with the village elders of the 44 villages under his stewardship, and promised them transparency in how the money is used. In only one year, Ouélessébougou increased its tax collection rate to 68%. Now it is one of the top 10 tax collection municipalities in Mali.

What Samaké Will Do: As President, Samaké’s government will mirror the success of Ouélessébougou and be an example of transparency. Samaké has the education, skills, and experience to be the strong leader that Mali needs.

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Today, Mali depends largely on foreign aid. However, like many African countries, much of the aid “disappears” before it reaches the people.

Statistics: Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Mali has continued to depend on foreign aid to feed its people, foster business growth, and meet construction and development needs. Mali in the last 10 years has become the third largest gold producer in Africa, and recently gold has made up over 80 percent of total export earnings for the country. Despite this, the mining industry only represents 8-10% of Mali’s GDP, which begs the question where the money is going. The latest change in mining laws has made mining a big business for foreign and local investors. Mali is also the largest cotton producer in Western Africa and cotton exports account for a significant portion of export revenue.

Samaké’s Background: As Mayor, Samaké has demonstrated how to effectively use available resources. Samaké is responsible for securing Malian and foreign funds for a vast solar panel field, the first grid-connected field in Mali. On December 31, 2011, with assistance from Mayor Samaké, the Malian Company for Textile Development (CMDT), a cotton ginning plant in Ouélessébougou, reopened. This plant is one of five cotton plants in the country and had been closed with the earlier declining cotton industry. The reopening of CMDT created over 100 new jobs for local citizens of Ouélessébougou, encouraging further development for other businesses in the area.

What Samaké Will Do: Samaké will create laws that manage resources so that Malians can relinquish dependence on foreign aid. By increasing transparency, honesty, and trust at the highest levels of government, Samaké will be able to utilize Mali's natural resources in a way that will improve economic conditions.

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Statistics: Since Mali’s first democratic presidential election in 1992, Mali had been Africa’s democracy poster child. This belief was shattered with the coup in March 2012. However, even before the coup, one only had to talk with the locals to know that a few prominent leaders controlled the power in Mali, and the needs Malians were second priority. In 2007, voter turnout was only 38%, and in a country of 15 million people, it is clear that there is a lack of conditions for access to voting and true democracy. Since the coup, democracy today is non-existent and Mali is run by an Interim President under the constitution.

Samaké’s Background: In response to the recent coup in Mali, Samaké was one of the first leaders to condemn the coup. He is working relentlessly with fellow political and military leaders in the coup to restore democracy peacefully, so that Mali may once again become the beacon of democracy in the region. As mayor, Samaké involves the local leaders in the decision making process. Soon after being elected, Samaké organized local councils to regularly report to the Mayor's office to ensure that every community and leader had a voice in local decisions that would affect them. Samaké has also sent members of his own council abroad so they can learn how other governments operate effectively. In December, he took a few Malian mayors to Utah so that they could exchange ideas on government and transparency. This led to the signing of a pact by these mayors that they would uphold effective, transparent government practices in their own communes.

What Samaké Will Do: Citizens must not only believe that they can select their leaders and express their views openly, but they must also have confidence that their leaders will improve their lives through public policy.As President, Samaké will uphold and expand Mali's role as an example of democracy in Africa. Samaké has proven that he has the ability to empower Malians, and he will continue to do this for all Malians as President.

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Samaké grew up hungry where he often times worried about where the next meal would come from. Samaké knows the pain of those without basic food and clean water, and his priority as President will be to ensure that all Malians have enough.

Statistics: Almost 80 percent of the labor force in Mali is engaged in farming and fishing, yet only five percent of Malian territory can be used for agriculture. Malians primarily grow millet and corn, which are the primary components of their diet. Samaké knows that Malians must use land efficiently to produce enough food for its citizens. As years have passed many more people are leaving rural farms for the city life, thereby dwindling the production of grains that can sustain Mali’s growing population.

Samaké’s Background: Samaké knows hunger. For the first few years of his life, times were tough and his father’s business struggled. As Mayor, Samaké has worked with groups both inside and outside the country to bring innovative changes for agriculture to Mali. Clean water is the most critical necessity for Malians both in daily life and agriculture. Samaké has installed over 140 water pumps in Ouélessébougou and continues to modernize and upgrade the water system in this region. In addition, his wife Marissa has initiated a project to purchase millet to feed children and their mothers. This project ensures that the food is available for a few months, allowing the mothers to sell the surplus in the market and save money to buy the food for upcoming months. Samaké has also encouraged external NGOs and organizations to invest in Ouelessebougou, making food, sanitation and well projects common and teaching Malians long term job skills.

What Samaké Will Do: As President, Samaké will broaden his current efforts to improve agricultural production and increase the supply/access to clean water for all Malians. His partnerships, both inside and outside the country, have already been contacted to help dig wells, install water tanks and facilitate irrigation to increase the basic water supply in areas where clean, running water is not available.

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Statistics: The average Malian does not attend school beyond the 6th grade. Almost half of Malians are 15 years old or younger. Mali is one of 11 countries where the literacy rate is below 50%. The literacy rate is 31.1% but this is even lower in the rural areas that make up 80% of Mali’s population.

Samaké’s Background: Samaké’s life today is a testimony to the transformative power of education. Samaké's father knew education was the only way to break the cycle of poverty for their children. Neighbors warned Tiecourafing Samaké, Samaké’s father, that the family would go hungry if the children attended school, but his father’s response was "My family will know hunger, but they will not know the darkness of illiteracy." Samaké’s life has been transformed, all because of his parents’ sacrifice to elevate the classroom above the field. Samaké knows that this sacrifice for education has given him opportunities that most Malians can only dream of. He earned a high school diploma in the capital, Bamako, 50 miles from home. He received a Bachelor’s degree in English at the EnSup in Bamako, and then a Master’s degree in Public Policy in the United States at Brigham Young University. Through his foundation, Mali Rising, he has built 15 schools throughout rural Mali and has plans underway for additional schools. Through the assistance of his foundation, thousands of children have enrolled in school, dozens of teachers have been trained, and countless amounts of educational supplies have been given to support education for Malian children. As Mayor of Ouélessébougou, one of Samaké's first priorities was to rebuild the trust of teachers who had become frustrated with sporadic pay, who sometimes would go many months without pay. Within his first month as Mayor, he ensured that all teachers were paid on time and that they had the classroom support they needed to educate their students. In addition, since taxes were paid on time, Samaké could buy textbooks and repair certain schools in his area.

What Samaké Will Do: In Mali, teacher strikes are very common. This is often due to lack of pay. Samaké has shown how Mayors can, at a local level, dramatically improve education through additional teacher support. As President, he will guarantee that local leaders have the flexibility they need to reform the education system in their own areas, according to their needs. This is the power of decentralization. Samaké promises as President that high schools and universities will be built in every region and thousands of teachers will be trained to meet the growing need of education locally.

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Statistics: The life expectancy in Mali is only 52 years —26 years shorter than in the United States. Infant mortality is the third highest in the world. 64 percent of child deaths under age five are from three conditions that are easily treated in most countries. However, because there is little access to healthcare services and little focus on healthcare, many diseases go untreated. In Mali, there is only 1 physician per 20,000 people. The lack of workforce and an inefficient healthcare system results in the inability to care for the most basic needs of Malians, especially for those Malians living in rural areas.

Samaké’s Background: Born in a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, Samaké was lucky to have lived past the age of five. Until he came to attend graduate school in the United States, he did not know the power of medicine and proper healthcare. In America, he saw the healthcare resources that have eradicated nearly all preventable diseases in America but still continue to plague his fellow Malians. Through his work with the Mali Rising Foundation, Samaké has been successful in bringing US medical and dental volunteers to provide free health services in Mali. There has also been an exchange of ideas and best practices between these doctors and Malian doctors. As Mayor and with the support of the central government, Samaké initiated the building of the first major hospital in the region, which will end the 40-kilometer journey to the nearest hospital. The hospital is set for completion in 2014 and will house a maternity clinic, pediatric unit, eye clinics and pharmacies.

What Samaké Will Do: Samaké has shown how he can introduce the power of modern medicine to save lives. Building on his previous success, Samaké will build hospitals in each region of Mali to ensure that all residents have access to basic healthcare services. Samaké will continue to expand the number of volunteers who come to Mali to provide free healthcare services. Samaké hopes to use telemedicine to train doctors and nurses in rural areas so they can employ the same lifesaving skills taught to medical providers in urban areas. Mali is currently host to the world-class National Institutes of Health laboratory and research facility focused on anti-malaria vaccines and medicines. As President, Samaké will facilitate their efforts to eliminate other communicable diseases across the country.

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Statistics: Mali’s estimated GDP has placed it as the second poorest country in the world. Its potential wealth lies in mining and the production of agricultural commodities, livestock, and fish. Mali is the second largest producer of cotton and the third largest producer of gold. Its gold industry has grown in the last 10 years due to the increased demand on the commodity. 15.7% of Mali's GDP comes from foreign aid. Agriculture forms 33% of the GDP, and 80% of the Malian workforce are employed in agriculture. The annual wage for a skilled worker sits at $1560 with most of the population making less than the international poverty line of $1.25. Today the unemployment rate in Mali hovers around 35%.

Samaké’s Background: After graduating from college in Mali, there were no jobs, so Samaké returned to Ouélessébougou where he volunteered his teaching services for three years. As Mayor, he created a structure by which individuals may train to become skilled workers. Also, by enlisting the help of the government to build a new school, hospital, and solar field, the number of jobs being offered in Ouélessébougou has increased significantly.

What Samaké Will Do: A key element of Samaké’s vision for Mali is one of increased openness and trade with all nations who value open markets and democratic traditions. Today, Mali is in the same place it was 50 years ago at independence. By restoring security, foreign investments in Mali will increase. Also, it is important to improve the ease for businesses to register to practice in Mali. Improving the efficiency of this process by cutting corruption will encourage companies to do business in Mali.Mining is still a growing industry, with gold accounting for some 80% of mining activity. Samaké wants to ensure transparency of procedures for obtaining, holding and transferring mining concessions, and setting a standard for the environmental impact of mining activities while promoting corporate social responsibility. In addition to existing incentives for investment in Mali, Samaké will uphold the rule of law by strengthening the judicial system, promoting transparency of mining procedures, and reinforcing more accountability in the market system.

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With the recent coup in Mali as well as the issues of AQIM and MNLA advancing in the North, Mali finds its national security policy under attack. Currently Mali finds itself under transitional rule where its leaders are not elected.

Statistics: Mali's armed forces number some 7,000 and are under the control of the Minister of Defense. Despite much Western foreign investment corruption has contributed to Mali’s army being ill equipped and ill prepared to defend itself. One of the primary impediments to security and governance arises out of the ungoverned tribal areas of Northern Mali. This remote and unpopulated region has served as a safe haven for one of the most successful Al Qaeda franchises in the world, Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM operates across the borders between Algeria, Mali and Niger. Arising from a socialist separatist group in Algeria, it has morphed itself into an Al Qaeda based organization, which is rapidly growing in strength, power, and influence. This has made Mali another frontier in the global struggle against transnational terrorism, and Mali is now a recipient of external assistance to combat terrorist groups.

Samaké’s Background: As Mali struggled since the coup with securing its nation and also fighting the radical elements in the North, Samaké has met with both West African leaders and Western leaders on how Mali can best be assisted in the crisis. While Samaké has always maintained that the solution to Mali’s security must come from within, there is the realization that years of corruption have robbed Mali from having the equipment needed to defend itself. These meetings have raised awareness on Mali’s security situation, but also the underlying issue of uniting the ethnic groups of the nation.

What Samaké Will Do: To bring stability back into the region and ensure that business and tourism can once again flourish, Samaké will take a strong stance against AQIM. This can be achieved by: developing an increased intelligence collection mechanism; increasing training opportunities bi-laterally; providing additional training for customs, border patrol and police; involving community organizations in the North as part of the solution; and improving economic growth and development. AQIM’s previous success is tied to the fact that without a legitimate economy, terrorism finds fertile grounds for growth. It will take not only a military approach to countering AQIM, but also a measured economic development approach, so that people do not see AQIM as the sole source for financial advancement in the area. Whereas previous administrations in Mali did not react to the growth of AQIM for various reasons, Samaké is committed to fighting this organization and forging the national security relationships that are necessary to do so.

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