Dr. Bakary Sambe : « MINUSMA's "immediate" withdrawal would pose a real threat to Mali and the region » Spécial

For Bakary Sambe, Regional Director of the Timbuktu institute, this demand for departure "without delay" is in line with the communication of the transitional authorities since they came to power: "The transitional authorities have been following the same logic since they came to power. It's an important part of their communication to always show that there are actors and organizations that are against Mali's interests. After France, during operation Barkhane, it was ECOWAS's turn. I think the main thrust of this communication is to find "enemies of Mali" every time.

According to this observer of the Malian political scene for over twenty years, "This populist discourse works very well with the population in the midst of an economic and security crisis. So, after France, ECOWAS and then the Ivorian soldiers, it's Minusma's turn. It's a binary schema that always sets Mali against the others.

The political context may even have a lot to do with this stance, which comes as no surprise to some observers: "What's more, we're currently in a crucial period where the Constitution is being debated, as well as future elections and the referendum on Sunday June 18. So the authorities needed to address the issue in an incisive way. The aim is to flatter Malian pride and brandish sovereignty," recalls Bakary Sambe.

A political communication strategy on the part of Bamako ?

For him, "the authorities are at a very advanced stage of the transition process, so it was necessary to tackle the real issues, such as the long-promised institutional reforms. That's why it's so opportune for them to wave the red rag of the departure of the Minusma, a mission that has become an easy target. Moreover, the use of the word "departure without delay" was well chosen, to send a message to the population whose pride they want to whip, even if it seems almost impossible to see such troops leave the country so quickly".

Despite the facade of unanimity, under the influence of social networks, the regional director of the Timbuktu Institute even explains that there are two opposing visions in Mali on the question of security cooperation, "there has always been a clear difference in discourse between, on the one hand, Bamako, its young urbanites, present on social networks, and on the other, the people who experience insecurity on a daily basis, such as in Ménaka, Gao or Timbuktu. The perception of cooperation is totally different, but in the end, the most audible discourse is that of the people who are least concerned by insecurity, but who flood the social networks".

Sambe believes that there is a "deliberate confusion" aimed at "masking the failure on the security front". For him, "the recent events in Moura were an illustration of the failure in terms of security", he continues: "It's often forgotten, but the two priority missions of the Minusma are to support the implementation of the peace agreement and the transition, and then to support the restoration and stabilization of the center of the country. So it wasn't a mandate to fight terrorism in the traditional way, but rather to consolidate peace. To make the link with failure on the security front is therefore a fine subterfuge intended for local and popular consumption".

Why the fixation on MINUSMA ?

"In reality, MINUSMA is a symbol in the discourse. It's a symbol of a foreign body, an external actor, which doesn't give the transitional authorities a free hand to guarantee security. This is the logic presented to the population. We saw the same thing with Barkhane, despite all its faults", explains Dr. Bakary Sambe.

But the researcher makes no secret of his skepticism about the sustainability of peacekeeping missions if they persist in their current form: "The longer we go on, the more peacebuilding missions lose their credibility. They therefore become the ideal target for criticism in terms of inefficiency. The format of these missions clearly needs to be reviewed. Over time, they have shown their limitations everywhere".

For Bakary Sambe, however, there remains the risk of a deterioration in security conditions in Mali and even in the region: "Today, when Mali is struggling to secure even the outskirts of Bamako - as demonstrated by the attack on Kati, the strategic heart of the regime - and even if the Minusma had a minor role to play in this respect, this required departure would constitute a real threat for the region. I'm not sure that those demanding such a departure are capable of securing the vast expanses of Mali bordering other countries under security pressure" 

After MINUSMA, what about Wagner ?

"I don't think Wagner will be able to play this stabilizing role," warns the researcher. "We've seen their blunders and exactions against civilian populations. The problem in Mali, especially in the center, is a communal one. Neither the FAMa nor Wagner will be able to solve it if they persist in their current strategy, which plays into the hands of terrorist groups posing as protectors of ostracized communities. The famous rise in power of the FAMAs, with the support of Wagner, has been against the communities and has had little effect on the ability of terrorist groups to cause harm".

And Sambe insists on the need for a change of strategy on the part of Bamako and its partners. According to him, "the Malian state needs to engage in dialogue with all the children of Mali, as it has a legitimate right to do, to stop stigmatizing certain communities and to initiate reconciliation. But we seem to be so far off the mark," he concludes.

Timbuktu Institute


NB: (Some extracts are from the interview with TV5 Monde)

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Dernière modification le mercredi, 12 juillet 2023 10:59