Inter-malian dialogue: "We must not neglect endogenous resources to achieve reconciliation" Spécial

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Bakary Sambe, Regional Director of the Timbuktu Institute African Center for Peace Studies (Bamako, Dakar, Niamey), highlights the need for dialogue with all Malians as part of the inter-Malian dialogue initiated by the President of the Transition for national reconciliation between all Malians. From Dakar, Dr. Bakary Sambe answers our questions.


Mali Tribune: What do you think of the inter-malian dialogue launched by the President of the Transition during his New Year's address to Malians ?

Dr. Bakary Sambe: First of all, we must welcome the Transition President's call for dialogue. It's an opportunity for Mali to emerge from the crisis that all stakeholders must seize. Mali needs sincere and inclusive reconciliation to face up to its countless challenges in harmony and national unity.

This appeal reflects the good will of the transitional authorities to forge ahead with the national reconciliation process. But it will be vital to ensure that this dialogue includes all stakeholders, including the different components of the armed groups in all their diversity.

Mali Tribune: The CMA armed groups have categorically rejected the idea of dialogue with the Bamako authorities as part of the peace process. How can the CMA be reintegrated into this dialogue ?

Dr. B. S.: Everything is still possible to save the situation. In a study carried out by the Timbuktu Institute entitled "La parole aux Maliens, pour la réconciliation", the most striking conclusion was the almost natural predisposition of Malians from all walks of life to overcome the most complex situations when the national interest was at stake. As you know, to reach the Algiers Agreements, many concessions had to be made by all parties. It was unhoped-for at the time.

Who can do more can do less, especially as the return of Kidal to the national fold is a new historic phase in the process of uniting Malians. You have to know how to read the signals and decipher the symbols. Mali's overriding interest is national unity, and everyone must work towards this. I am convinced that the authorities, in their quest for lasting peace, will appreciate any effort in this direction, and will be able to favour the spirit of dialogue when it comes to national harmony.

Mali Tribune: As Regional Director of the Timbuktu Institute, do you believe that this inter-malian dialogue can foster peace between Malians ?

Dr. B. S.: I have faith in the ability of Malians to surpass themselves and move forward together. The historic greatness of a country and a people is always a credit towards meeting any challenge. It is a driving force behind the great leaps forward. We need it today. Dialogue is a necessity, but it is also inscribed in the cultural practices of Malians. We, at the Timbuktu Institute, believe that this dialogue must be supported and encouraged because, above all and even beyond the imperative need to meet the pressing challenges in this country, Mali's survival is that of our region. Peace in this pivotal country is peace for everyone.

Mali Tribune: Is this inter-Malian dialogue a strategy to disengage Algerian mediation, as the CMA claims ?

Dr. B. S.: Mali needs all its partners. But no one can impose solutions or know better than Malians what is best for their future together. In our study, "La parole aux Maliens", it emerged that Malians first and foremost always want to talk to each other, because their shared history and culture provide them with the endogenous resources to decipher and agree on what is in the national interest. Helping Mali towards reconciliation means first and foremost supporting inter-malian dialogue. We need to support this dialogue and make it inclusive, a sine qua non for its success.

Mali Tribune: According to diplomatic sources, the President of the Transition is due to visit Algiers. In your opinion, would this visit be crucial for the inter-malian dialogue, given that the CMA took refuge in Algiers after the recapture of Kidal ?  

Dr. B. S.: I don't know anything about it, but this visit would be a major step, especially as the President of the Transition has rarely visited the region. Just as he gave a strong signal in his New Year's speech by calling for dialogue, it is also necessary to safeguard ties with all Mali's neighbors. This is crucial to the stability of both Mali and the region as a whole. We've seen that even Morocco and other countries like Senegal are keen to maintain these good relations, with President Macky Sall's visit in particular being much appreciated at the time.

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