Yeah Samake sat down for an exclusive interview with the Malian newspaper L’Independent to discuss his views on where his party PACP stands on the situation in Mali after the President was attacked in his office.
Interview with Yeah Samake
Yeah Samaké about possible military intervention of ECOWAS in Mali: “cannot ask foreign forces to come protect Malians”
The Independent: Mali is in one of the most painful periods in its history. Monday 21 May, President of the Republic Acting Dioncounda Traoré, was beaten in his office in Koulouba. What lessons do you draw from this act?
Yeah Samake: This attack is a disgrace to our country. The physical integrity of Dioncounda Traoré as interim president was violated. First, we deplore and condemn this fact with the utmost vigor. Next, we wish speedy recovery to the Professor and demand, finally, that the perpetrators and their accomplices are identified and brought to justice. That said, we can draw several lessons from this aggression. Our country is going through a painful period and total confusion. First, security arrangements, not only the presidency but also all other institutions must be such that institutions are not violated. We ask the competent authorities to take all necessary measures so that what happened does not happen again in the history of our country. This collective shame we do not deserve it. Then, it is also an expression of frustration born of mismanagement of a double political and security crisis. The situation in the North is indeed an emergency, but the priority is looking for leadership to an uprising of 21 March 2012 which led to the resignation of President Amadou Toumani Toure.
ECOWAS has a stranglehold on mediation that eventually metamorphosed with the signing of agreement. Mediation implies facilitating the reunion of peace between two conflicting entities. If mediation is itself involved, it loses all credibility. Compaore, ECOWAS mediator in the crisis in Mali, when he invited the political class and Malian forces in Ouaga, was beginning to explore a solution. It happened in the tradition of mediation: listening parties, stakeholders take into account the points of convergence and of divergence. This helped to publish a statement containing the points of agreement. After that, the political class and the forces were excluded from management. Since then, ECOWAS has stumbled with the signing of a framework agreement with the very people we are trying to dissuade namely CNRDRE. It was not legitimate for this group to sign a framework agreement. After this, ECOWAS could have recovered the situation through the invitation of the forces of the nation with the mediator. A major step was taken in Ouaga, unfortunately, no action was seen from this meeting. And that’s where the ECOWAS mediation has grown from a bias in imposing its will on the people of Mali in flagrant violation of its sovereignty and legitimizing the military junta. At the Abidjan meeting, rather than rectify the situation by involving forces, they set themselves up as deciders of Mali’s future by setting the duration of the transition and appointing its president. This clearly goes beyond the skills of ECOWAS and of the mediation. It is true that this is the consequence of the inability of politicians to agree on a Malian solution but as a key player in the process, it should not be excluded from mediation in which, ECOWAS, itself, was groping overnight. Mediation has shown its limits, it must be extended now to other actors. These are lessons we can draw on physical aggression suffered by the President Traoré.
The Indep. : What are the new players you mentioned and that should be involved?
YS: Then it’s a double crisis; ECOWAS would gain by successfully resolving the political crisis before the crisis facing North. For the political crisis, we must reintroduce the political actors and Malian forces in its resolution. For the crisis in North, its resolution requires the neighbors to the north, including Algeria and Mauritania as ECOWAS alone has neither the money nor the logistics to help Mali to address this problem. We believe that a political solution should be preferred for the Malians, together with partners, came together to fight violent Islamist movements and terrorism. I highly recommend a new source is introduced in the management of crises. I ask not to exclude ECOWAS, but to provide the necessary support.
The Indep. : Military intervention of ECOWAS is it necessary now in our country?
Y.S: The answer is no. You cannot ask foreign forces to come to intervene between Malians. We cannot ask foreign forces to come shoot Malians. Malians cannot ask foreign forces to come and protect the government from the people against the people. There is no question of appealing to foreign forces to come down and fight the Malian army. This is not a sustainable solution because Mali will always need its army. Therefore, we must oppose any interference. Instead, we must reform our army to fight terrorism that has plagued the north and including Mali alone cannot eradicate. We must seek the support of neighboring countries and the international community. In Mali, you can sit, discuss and find solutions for resolving crises of this kind takes time. It is time that Malians devote themselves to Mali for once: Mali requires it and the situation requires that Malians must start it. Any other solution is temporary.