We have expressed our undiluted condemnation of the March 22 military coup led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, who overthrew the democratically-elected government of Amadou Toumani Touré and we have called on Captain Sanogo and his cohorts to return to the barracks where they belong. We have also encouraged a stronger regional involvement in the brewing crisis to ensure the country is returned to a civilian government and reunited again into one country.
But as the interim government in the South struggles to exert its authority over the country, it seems like the situation in the North is taking a turn for the worst. According to latest news reports, the former Northern allies, who jointly declared the Northern region of the country under their control, an autonomous state, are now going at each others’ throats over disagreement about what form of governance to institute in the North. The clashes were apparently sparked after the Tuareg rebels refused to support the al Qaeda-linked Islamic fighters’ quest to impose Sharia law in the north.
With a breakdown of the already tenuous alliance between the two Northern groups, it only seems to have further complicated efforts to reunite the partitioned country. Also, there are rising concerns that the Islamists are seeking to create an Islamic state that could become a haven for terrorists, not unlike Somalia.
The regional body, ECOWAS, has expressed its intention to send up to 3000 troops to Mali to calm the rising tension in that country. The UN Security Council has also expressed support for the regional body’s military intervention in the crisis in Mali, but says it needs more details about ECOWAS’ plans.
And now, with the situation in the North reaching a new critical dimension, and as protesters in the South call on the weak interim government to intervene to resolve the situation in the North before it gets out of control, it would seem that it is high time for ECOWAS to take the next step to clamp down the rising tension in the North.
We have said earlier that we believe that the situation in Mali is a critical test for ECOWAS that must be resolved with all means at the regional body’s disposal to return the country to democratic rule and also reunite the country. And we stand by our belief.
In this emerging new African reality with democracy sweeping across the continent, and to secure peace and security in the West African sub-region, it is immutable that if the situation in Mali is left unchecked, would-be coup plotters in other regional countries would hardly be deterred by ECOWAS’ new zero-tolerance for undemocratic power grabbing, and the country’s North could also become a launching pad for terrorism.
We therefore call on ECOWAS to seriously consider sending those 3000 troops to Mali to intervene in the crisis before it gets out of hand. The longer the wait, the higher the probability that the situation will worsen and become even more difficult to contain. ECOWAS needs to therefore take a decisive step to douse the rising tension in the country, to return Mali to democracy and unite the North and South of the country.