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September 09 2013

Intervention au Mali, ce qu'en pense Alger

La déclaration, fin novembre, de M. Romano Prodi, représentant spécial de l'Organisation des Nations unies (ONU) pour le Sahel, estimant qu'une action militaire dans le nord du Mali ne serait pas possible « avant septembre 2013 » (Liberté, 21 novembre 2012), a été reçue comme une bonne nouvelle à Alger. (...) / Algérie, Armée, Conflit, Politique, Mali, Touaregs, Sahel, Organisation internationale - 2013/01

September 08 2013

Au Mali, l'irruption des religieux en politique

Quatre salons, dotés d'un coin ablutions et d'un autre pour les repas ; un espace de projection ; des dizaines de fauteuils aux accoudoirs imposants, de tablettes de verre, de tapis, tentures, dorures, lustres de cristal, colonnes d'air conditionné… Ainsi se présentent les appartements privés de (...) / Islam, Politique, Religion, Société, Mali - 2013/01

September 02 2013

When Reality TV Meets Humanitarian Action in Italy

RAI 1, the flagship television channel of the national public service broadcaster and the most watched channel in Italy, is developing a humanitarian aid show in reality form. The first episode is planned to be broadcast next 4 December 2013.

“The Mission”, which is presented as a social experience, will show eight celebrities over two weeks working for the Italian NGO Intersos in refugee camps in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali. All of this will take place under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

On the blog African Voices, Carlo Catteneo explained more about the premise of the show in a post entitled  “Mission” by RAI 1. A time bomb?:

The goal of RAI would be to propose, through this social experiment, as a means of advertising the cause of the most excluded and the engagement of humanitarian workers in order to create greater awareness in the audience. From the rumors collected production will not be focused on the suffering and desperation of refugees but rather on the positive and concrete commitment of humanitarian workers on the stories of refugees and the reasons for fleeing from their native countries. Each episode of The Mission will be introduced by an accurate explanation of the social, historical, political and cultural development of each country visited in order to offer the public with adequate information and to avoid the spectacularization of refugees. Laura Lucci, head of UNHCR Italy ensures that they are focusing on a program of information. The presence of UNHCR will ensure that they are only collected the stories of refugees volunteers standing up supervisor of the right of privacy and personal freedom of each individual. The increase of awareness and private story telling by refugees will help, according intentions of the promoters, to make public opinion more open and sensible on issues such as illegal immigration and the reasons that lead to the desperate search of a better life through the Mediterranean.

Cattaneo also published a copy of the official authorisation to shoot the programme from the DRC

ministry-of-culture_authorization-for-filming_09-07-20132

 

Many Italians – whether humanitarian or not – have already begun to criticise the programme several months before it is to be broadcast. There is intense debate on the Internet. An online petition [it] asking for the programme not be be broadcast has already been signed by more than 91,000 people. They agree that the show plays with the lives of the refugees, and downplays the consequences of conflicts.

The site Afriqinfos [fr] argued that the world of reality TV is about to cross another line by going to refugee camps in Africa [fr]:

Change.org et Activism.org ont lancé chacun une pétition visant à annuler la mise en place de The Mission : « ça vous dirait de voir votre mère, qui a survécu à des violences inimaginables, être tournée en ridicule comme comparse d’un reality show ? » argumente la première organisation.

Change.org and Activism.org have each launched a petition to cancel the broadcasting of The Mission: “How would you like to see your mother, who has survived unimaginable violence, becoming an object of ridicule as an extra on a reality TV show?” argues the first of these organisations.

In addition to the recurrent criticisms, notably relating to the celebrities’ wages for the show [it], another argument against this show is that the celebrities chosen are second-class, B-listers [it] or attempting a comeback.

As zaccunu09 writes in the article Sfiga Africa: ci mancava Albano [it] (Poor Africa: Albano on top of everything else) of l'Espresso magazine [editor's note: Albano is an Italian singer who was popular in the 1970s and 80s]:

Che bella idea questa di Leone,figlio dell'ex Presidente della Repubblica,ed è superfluo dire perché oggi si trova a quel posto !, forte di un'autorità che non sappiamo bene da dove venga ,ha organizzato questa ridicola messinscena con personaggi che hanno un seguito da ridere se non fosse per la Rai che continua a farli apparire sulla scena televisiva,il più delle volte a sproposito. Albano, ci basta la presunzione e l'atteggiamento malandrino;il rampollo ruspante di casa Savoia,che non si sa a che titolo calca la scena Rai e con quali meriti se non una eredità che più scalcinata ed inquietante non poteva essere; Barale, ma esiste veramente? ,Cocuzza per più cocuzza non poteva essere,forse ho dimenticato qualcuno ma sicuramente sarà all'altezza degli altri. VIVA LA RAI ………

What a great idea from Leone – son of the ex-President of the Republic [Giovanni Leone] – and we don't need to ask how he's got that job today [director of RAI 1][it]! Relying on his authority from no one knows where, he has organised this farce with personalities who would no longer exist in the public sphere if RAI didn't take care of their media appearances by exhibiting them inappropriately as often as possible. We've had enough of Al Bano‘s complacency and mischief, and as for the direct descendant of the House of Savoy, we don't know how or why he is shown on RAI if not solely because of a legacy which could not be more pathetic and disturbing. Barale, does she even really exist? Cocuzza [the name of a RAI personality which also means thoughtless], you can't get any more thoughtless, I might have forgotten someone [it], but no doubt they will be at the same level as the others. LONG LIVE RAI……..

At Articolotre.com, Albano addressed some of these criticisms:

Io difendo questo programma, e non capisco davvero cosa ci vediate di male: ce l'avete con me? Non capisco perché si parli di reality quando si tratta di realtà. Non sarebbe stato uno spettacolo, ma un'indagine, un'occasione per accendere i riflettori sulla gente che soffre. A me piaceva proprio l'idea di andare in un luogo in cui le persone sono abbandonate. Io voglio accendere qual faro, far vedere cosa succede. Continuano a morire dappertutto, ma se non proviamo ad accendere le luci che succederà?

I defend this programme, and I don't really understand what you see as negative: do you have a problem with me? I don't understand why we are talking about reality TV when this is about reality. It won't be a spectacle, but an investigation, an opportunity to highlight the issue of these people who are suffering. Personally, I really liked the idea of going to a place where people have been abandoned. I want to shine a light on the problem, to see what is happening. People are continuing to die everywhere, but if we don't highlight the problems, what will happen?

While with Invisible Children's Stop Kony 2012 campaign, a great majority of African comments were negative, this time they seem to give a more nuanced view, particularly on Facebook [fr]:

Aragone Diger : Sortir les réfugiés de l'ombre, c'est aussi montrer les tares de la guerre et ainsi conscientiser les populations de pays impliqués dans les guerres surtout en Afrique.

Aragone Diger: Bringing refugees out of the shadows also means showing the destruction of war, and making people living in the countries affected, especially in Africa, more aware.

Renaud-Désiré Essoh Lath: Moi j'aime ça montre que dans la vie y'a pas que Kardashians et y'a des problèmes plus sérieux !!

Renaud-Désiré Essoh Lath: Personally, I like that it shows that there is more to life than the Kardashians and that there are more serious issues!!

Following rumours that the show would be cancelled, RAI published an official denial. Thanks to the debate it has started, “The Mission” has benefited from publicity that just can't be bought.

Abdoulaye Bah and Antonella Sinopoli contributed to this article

August 21 2013

Que reste-t-il des frontières africaines ?

Le conflit entre le Mali et l'Azawad perdure, et les Nations unies discutent d'une intervention militaire. La partition de fait du Mali illustre la fragilité, patente depuis la fin de la guerre froide, des frontières du continent. / Afrique, Soudan, Conflit, État, Géopolitique, Histoire, (...) / Afrique, Soudan, Conflit, État, Géopolitique, Histoire, Inégalités, Terrorisme, Violence, Mali, Géographie, Afrique de l'Ouest, Frontières, Soudan du Sud - 2012/12

August 13 2013

Election sans passion au Mali

Election sans passion au Mali
http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/carnet/2013-08-13-Mali

Le soulagement est perceptible au Mali après l’élection, sans incident majeur, de M. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita à la présidence de la République le 10 août. Par un geste remarqué, son adversaire malheureux, M. Soumaïla Cissé, s’est rendu en personne au domicile du nouveau chef de l’Etat pour le féliciter et lui souhaiter « bonne chance ».

#France #Mali #Sahel #Élections #Politique #Terrorisme

August 02 2013

Mali Looks for Fresh Start with Presidential Race Down to Two

A second round of elections [fr] will be necessary to determine who will be the next president of war-torn Mali.

The next vote will decide a winner between former Prime Minister Ibrahima Boubacar Keita [fr], who received about 48 percent of the first vote, and Soumaïla Cissé [fr], who gained about 24 percent.

Mali has been plagued with a conflict with different rebel groups in the northern region for the last year and a half. At the peak of the crisis, a military junta led by Captain Amadou Sanogo removed then-president Amadou Toumani Touré in 2012 and took over as a governing body.

Political affiliations aside, the overall voter participation is already cause for celebration. This election is a first step towards a return to normalcy for a country that also faces a refugee crisis and food shortage. The second round will take place on August 11.

The contenders

The early returns from the first round indicated that Ibrahim Boubacar Keita [fr] was the frontrunner to become the next president, with 55.93 percent of votes cast for him early on. Keita was prime minister of Mali from 1994 to 2000 under the presidency of Alpha Oumar Konaré. He then was the president of the National Assembly of Mali from 2002 to 2007. He is also the leader of the political party, Rally for Mali (RPM).

Ibrahima Boubacar Keita from fis facebook page - Public Domain

Ibrahima Boubacar Keita from his Facebook page – Public Domain

His main opponents in the race are Soumaïla Cissé and Dramane Demblé, among others. There were some concerns that the elections would come too soon as some parts of the country in the north are yet to be controlled by the army instead of rebel groups.

While a few candidates have already congratulated Keita on his success, some candidates have already signaled some irregularities in the electoral process. Souamalia Cissé, also a presidential candidate in 2002, claims that some ballots were filled with fraudulent votes. On Koaci blog, Cissé's party stated [fr]:

L’URD, Union pour la République et la démocratie, parti de Soumaila Cissé, est monté au créneau ce mercredi pour dénoncer “un bourrage des urnes”.

The URD, Soumaila Cissé's party, has denounced on Wednesday (31/07)  some instances of ballot stuffing.

Cissé's party added:

Malgré ce bourrage, selon nos chiffres, un second tour est inévitable pour départager notre candidat, Soumaïla Cissé, et Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta [..] Le ministre a annoncé un taux de participation de 53% selon des résultats partiels. Cela donne à peu près 3 600 000 électeurs qui ont voté. Cela veut dire qu'il faudra au minimum 1 800 000 voix pour passer au premier tour, or, à ce jour, aucun candidat n'a plus d'un million de voix

In spite of the ballot stuffing and according to our numbers, a second round is all but guaranteed to sort out the winner between Soumaïla Cissé, and Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta [..] The minister announced that the participation rate was at 53 percent from the early returns. It means that just about 3,600,000 voters have gone to the poll. Therefore, at least 1,800,000 vote is required to win in the first round, yet, as of today, none of the candidate has collected more than a million votes.

An important milestone for Mali 

Because of the conflict with the rebels, many Malians were displaced from their homes and took refuge in neighboring countries. In the following video available on YouTube from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR, Jarrou Ag Ahmed, a Malian refugee in Burkina Faso, explains why the president election is an important step for Mali's recovery:

We want to have a president in order to have peace in our country

Others concur, such as Sean Gallagher, Catholic Relief Services country representative in Mali:

The elections are seen as an opportunity in Mali, and people hope that the newly elected leaders can take advantage of this opportunity and address the deep seated problems that have held the country back from working on behalf of the Malian people. There is a sense, also, that the elections will now move the country beyond the coup.

Dr. Christos Kyrou, an expert on peace and conflict resolution, is not quite as optimistic about the new start that the elections may provide for Mali. He explains in the news platform The Fair Observer what lies ahead for Mali and the important challenges it still needs to tackle:

The original causes of the conflict, including poverty, corruption, and the last few years’ persistent drought in northern Mali, are the greatest long-term challenges that the country faces. Also, a lack of elementary infrastructure, job opportunities, water, and basic microeconomic components such as available credit, suggest that unless the international community responds swiftly and provides aid that will target these areas of concern, it will only be a matter of time when the next rebellion takes place.

July 29 2013

While we wait for election results in Mali

While we wait for election results in #Mali
http://africasacountry.com/while-we-wait-for-election-results-in-mali

Malians voted yesterday to elect a president for the next five years. Based on the first news reports and the echo chamber of Twitter, large numbers went to vote for this first round, making the possibility of the largest participation in Malian #elections credible since the highest it has ever been is 40%. Participation was [...]

#Hot_News #POLITICS #Captain_Amadou_Sanogo #coup #France

July 28 2013

Follow the Presidential Election in Mali in Real Time

Today (July 28) is the first round of the presidential election in Mali.  To keep track of the proceedings in real time, updates are available on twitter via the hashtag #Mali2013, on the twitter accounts @Malivote (and its website)  and @angaelections (site) and  on the news group “Info élections 2013″ on Facebook [fr].

July 25 2013

Mali : Une élection sous influence française, cautionnée par l'Union Européenne et l'ONU

#Mali : Une élection sous influence française, cautionnée par l’Union Européenne et l’ONU
http://survie.org/francafrique/mali/article/mali-une-election-sous-influence-4520

Les Maliens sont convoqués le 28 juillet pour élire leur président de la République. L’association Survie dénonce les pressions des autorités françaises et des autres puissances qui dictent aux autorités maliennes les conditions et la date du scrutin. Alors que ces élections sont censées viser le retour à un ordre institutionnel stable, de nombreux éléments remettent en cause sa crédibilité : la situation à Kidal est instable. L’accord de Ouagadougou du 18 juin 2013, imposé au gouvernement malien par (...) (...)

#Communiqués_de_presse #Élections

What Issues do Malian Voters Care about in the Presidential Election?

Bruce Whitehouse parses out five key issues for the upcoming presidential election in Mali (July 28). As for what Malians expect from the poll, Whitehouse reports:

Voters are overwhelmingly concerned about the high cost of living, unemployment, corruption, law and order, and everyday quality-of-life questions, particularly water and sanitation. Preserving national unity and ending conflict are also concerns, but much further down the list of priorities.

 

June 28 2013

Le Mali sur les Champs

Le défilé militaire du 14 juillet, sur les Champs Elysées, à Paris, comportera en ouverture une « séquence malienne » – genre triomphe à la romaine, et légions auréolées de leur victoire – avec en tête un détachement des forces armées maliennes, suivi par des contingents africains intervenus au Mali, et des unités françaises de l'opération Serval. Le gouvernement français, qui manque de motifs de réjouissance, ne cesse de capitaliser sur la réussite de son opération dans les sables du Mali … « Grand succès », (...) - Défense en ligne / France, Armée, Mali

June 19 2013

Mali: Interview with creator of video journal “How are things in Bamako?”

At the time of writing, June 2013, France is still fighting Islamists in Mali. Paris-based documentary-maker Anne Morin [fr] and her friend Awa Traoré [fr] in Bamako decided to share a video journal [fr] of their conversations on Skype on YouTube. At the beginning, the ambition was to do one per day; it was only possible to maintain this rate for a few days. So they moved to conducting the interviews on a weekly basis.

Following a long silence after the ninth edition, the tenth video of the series has been just put on line:

Anna Gueye used the opportunity to ask Anne Morin some questions.

Anna Gueye (Global Voices): Why did you create this series?

Anne Morin: Je ne pouvais pas juste rester là à attendre des infos de la presse et je voulais rester en lien avec les amis du Mali et Awa en particulier qui est une amie récente mais avec laquelle je partage beaucoup de choses car elle est aussi réalisatrice de documentaires.
C’est une conversation entre Awa et moi; ce qui moi me soucie c’est par rapport à notre projet d’adoption d’un enfant malien.

Anne Morin: I couldn't just sit there waiting for news from the press, and I wanted to stay in touch with friends in Mali, in particular with Awa who is a new friend with which I share many things because she too directs documentaries.
It is a conversation between me and Awa; what I care about is the relationship to our project to adopt a Malian child.

Why Mali?

Mes beaux-parents (70 et 75 ans) font de l’humanitaire dans le pays Dogon depuis 10 ans. Ils ont créé une association Jean d’Argile qui en association avec via Sahel a monté un laboratoire biologique dans l’hôpital de Sangha. Cela fait donc des années que je vais au Mali.

My in-laws (aged 70 and 75) have been doing humanitarian work in the Dogon Country for 10 years. They created a Jean d'Argole association who, together with via Sahel set up a biological laboratory in the Hospital of Sangha. So it has been years since I went to Mali.

In the videos above you say that international adoptions have been stopped in Mali. Why is that?

Tout a commencé avec la promulgation du nouveau code de la famille, en janvier 2012, dont l’article 540 limite l’adoption-filiation aux seuls ressortissants maliens. Pendant quelques mois, malgré tout, l'adoption a continué comme avant. Mais en novembre, la Ministre de la Promotion de l’Enfant, de la Femme et de la Famille, Madame Alwata Ichata Sahi, a décidé d’arrêter les adoptions internationales. Il s’agissait alors de répondre à une lettre du Secrétaire de la Convention de La Haye, traité international régissant l’adoption et dont le Mali est signataire. Cette lettre demandait aux autorités maliennes de se mettre en concordance avec le traité international [qu’elles ont signé] et proposait deux alternatives : (i) soit arrêter les adoptions internationales vers des non-Maliens puisque la  nouvelle loi nationale l’interdisait ; (ii) soit de modifier la loi. Les autorités maliennes ont choisi la première alternative, et sans préavis aucun.

It all started with the creation of the new Family Code, in January 2012, article 540 of which limits adoption to Malian nationals. For a few months, however, adoptions continued as before. But in November, the Minister of the Advancement of Children, Women and Family, Mrs Alwata Ichata Sahi, decided to stop international adoptions. It was then necessary to respond to a letter from the Secretary of the Hague Convention, international treaty governing adoption and to which Mali is a signatory. The letter asked the Malian authorities for agreement with the international treaty [which they signed] and proposed two alternatives: (i) either stop adoptions to non-Malians as prohibited by the new national law or (ii), amend the law. Without any warning, the Malian authorities have chosen the first option.

How many prospective adopters are affected?

A l'époque, environ 150 dossiers de candidats étrangers à l'adoption (Français en majorité, Italiens, Espagnols, Canadiens…) avaient été dûment sélectionnés sur des critères moraux et matériels. Leur probité avait alors été reconnue. Ces candidats sélectionnés, attendaient, en confiance, parfois depuis des années, que le Mali leur confie un enfant abandonné. Existait alors un engagement mutuel entre eux et le Mali.

At this time, approximately 150 records from foreign prospective adopters (mostly French, then Italians, Spaniards, Canadians…) had been duly selected on moral and material grounds. Their integrity had therefore been recognized. These selected candidates were waiting, trustingly, sometimes for years, for Mali to entrust to them an abandoned child. Therefore a mutual commitment existed between themselves and Mali.

Was a transitional policy considered?

Malheureusement non. La Convention de La Haye est pourtant très précise : Retarder le placement familial permanent d'un enfant, surtout dans les cas de transition pourrait être contraire  au principe supérieur de l'enfant. Or, aucune politique transitoire n'a été mise en place. Les placements n'ont pas été retardés, ils ont brutalement cessé. Et ce qui était cyniquement prévisible advient désormais: l'adoption par les ressortissants maliens étant dérisoire, les pouponnières souffrent d'un effectif pléthorique. Autrefois financées en grande partie par des ONG étrangères de parents adoptifs et candidats à l’adoption, elles ont vus, avec l'arrêt de l'adoption internationale, leur budget fondre. Ce qui signifie, très pragmatiquement qu'elles manquent de tout : eau, lait, nourriture, l'essentiel pour survivre, sans parler de couches ou de biberons ; cela signifie qu'elles ne peuvent plus rémunérer leur personnel, que les enfants manquent de soins (*).

En outre, on soupçonne une recrudescence des infanticides, l'abandon étant interdit au Mali et les pouponnières étant surchargées.

Ce constat ne vient pas de nous. Il est admis de tous les acteurs de l'adoption au Mali qui se sont rassemblés du 16 au 18 mai à Bamako, à l'initiative du Ministère de la Promotion de la Femme et de l'Enfant, lors de l'Atelier de concertation sur l'adoption. Tous se sont accordés sur la nécessité absolue de solutions d'urgence humanitaire.

Unfortunately not. The Hague Convention is very precise that delaying the permanent placing of a child in a family, especially in the case of transition could be contrary to the best interests of the child. However, no transitional policy was set up and placements were not simply slowed down, they were brutally stopped. Following which, what could have been cynically predicted happened: adoption by Malian nationals being negligible, the nurseries for homeless infants started overflowing. Previously funded in the main by foreign NGOs for adoptive parents and prospective adopters, they have seen their budget collapse with the stopping of international adoptions. Which means, on a day-to-day basis they lack everything: water, milk, food, the basics for survival, not to mention diapers or baby bottles. This means that they can no longer pay their staff and that the children lack care (*).In addition, an increase in infanticide is suspected, abandonment being prohibited in Mali and the nurseries for homeless infants being overloaded.This is not our own observation. It is accepted by all stakeholders in adoption in Mali who gathered from May 16 to 18 in Bamako, at the initiative of the Ministry for the Advancement of Women and Children, during the workshop for dialogue on adoption. Everyone was agreed on the absolute necessity for urgent humanitarian solutions.

How might the situation change?

La seule recommandation que préconise le ministère est une modification de la loi et ce après les prochaines élections, prévues  en juillet. Au mieux, ce ne serait donc pas avant de nombreux mois que les apparentements et les adoptions reprendraient.

Les enfants sont déjà en attente et manquent de tout depuis 8 mois. Dans la vie d'un nourrisson, 8 mois sont une éternité. La temporalité de la démarche législative, pour légitime qu'elle soit, ne doit pas venir en opposition avec la temporalité d'un nourrisson.

La solution humanitaire d'urgence est pourtant à portée de main : apparenter les candidats déjà sélectionnés,  ceux-là même qui se sont engagés à aimer et élever dans leur foyer un enfant du Mali dans le respect de sa culture d'origine.

C'est peut-être une lecture interprétative de la loi mais elle a déjà été faire au début du mois de mai 2013 : 8 jugements d'adoption d'enfants apparentés avant octobre 2012  auprès de familles européennes, ont enfin eu lieu. Dans l'intérêt supérieur de l'enfant, et parce qu'il y a urgence, qu'il y a non-assistance à personne en danger, cette interprétation-là est la bonne.

The only recommendation from the Ministry is modification of the law after the next elections, scheduled for July. Therefore, at best, it will be many months before links would be recreated and adoptions resume.Children are waiting and lack everything from 8 months onwards. In the life of an infant, 8 months is an eternity. The timescale of the legislative approach, as legitimate as it may be, must not come into opposition with the timescale of an infant.Nevertheless, an emergency humanitarian solution is at hand which is to link up with the already selected candidates, those who committed themselves to love and raise a child of Mali in their homes while respecting its culture of origin. This may be an interpretative reading of the law but a precedent was set at the start of May 2013 when 8 adoption judgments for children who had been linked up with prospective European families before October 2012 finally took place. In the best interests of the child, and because of the urgency, and of the lack of assistance to anyone in danger, this interpretation is the right one.

(*) Gifts are regularly sent to nurseries for homeless infants and there, 4 thousand litres of milk has been made up – diapers and clothes should be able to go next week. There are one hundred children available for adoption in Bamako.

June 11 2013

Senegal's Democratic Tradition Takes Worrisome Turn

[All links forward to French-language webpages unless otherwise noted.]

Senegal has a solid tradition of democracy and protection of freedom of expression and human rights. But recent months have seen the West African nation's reputation as a stronghold for democracy in Africa seriously damaged with the evictions of a Chadian journalist and Gambian dissident, both opponents of the governments in their home countries.

Chadian [en] blogger and journalist Makaila Nguebla [en], an opponent of his country's President Idriss Déby [en] who has ruled Chad for more than two decades, was deported on May 8, 2013 to neighboring Guinea. Nguebala runs a highly critical blog about his country's regime.

Well-known Gambian [en] opponent Kukoi Samba Sanyang [en], who led the 1981 rebellion against the regime of former President Dawda Kaïraba Diawara, was expelled April 17, 2013 to Mali.

Mamadou Oumar Ndiaye, author for the Senegalese weekly Le Témoin, detailed Senegal's democratic character, giving credit to the country's first President Leopold Sedar Senghor, a poet and intellectual who served from 1960 to 1980, in his post titled “Senegal, your excellent traditions are falling apart!“:

Le Sénégal n’a ni or (ou alors très peu, dans la région de Kédougou), ni diamants, encore moins du pétrole, du gaz ou de l’uranium … De plus, la pluviométrie n’y est pas abondante et la plupart de nos paysans ne travaillent que trois mois dans l’année … Malgré tout, notre pays tient une place honorable dans le concert des nations africaines. Et, à franchement parler, il a un niveau de développement que beaucoup de pays incroyablement gâtés par la nature nous envient. Cela est dû, bien sûr, à la qualité des ressources humaines du Sénégal produites par un système éducatif de qualité mis en place par le premier président de la République, le poète, agrégé de grammaire et académicien Léopold Sédar Senghor. Un système public d’éducation dont l’actuel Président est un pur produit, soit dit en passant. … Ce niveau de développement enviable, notre pays le doit aussi à sa stabilité politique légendaire qui a fait que, depuis l’indépendance en 1960, il n’a jamais connu de coup d’Etat militaire. En Afrique, notre pays est l’un des rares à avoir toujours été gouverné par un pouvoir civil. Et au moment où partout ailleurs, les pouvoirs militaires étaient la règle, le Sénégal a constitué une joyeuse exception, un îlot de démocratie dans un océan de dictatures … Bref, de quelque côté qu’on le prenne, le Sénégal a toujours fait figure d’exception en Afrique.

Senegal has neither gold (or very little, in the Kedougou region) nor diamonds, let alone oil, gas or uranium … In addition, rainfall is not abundant and most of our farmers only work three months per year … However, our country holds an honorable place among the African nations. And frankly speaking, Senegal has a level of development that many other countries with more natural blessings would envy. This is, of course, due to the quality of human resources in Senegal which is itself, a byproduct of the quality of the educational system established by the first President of the Republic of Senegal Leopold Sedar Senghor. Senghor was also a poet, a grammar scholar and the first African elected as a member of the Académie françaiseBy the way the current president is a pure product of this same public educational system. … This enviable standard of development, our country also owes it to its legendary political stability; since its independence in 1960, it has never experienced a military coup. In Africa, our country is one of the few to have only been governed by civil authorities. And when everywhere else, military authorities were the rule, Senegal was a happy exception; an island of democracy in a sea of dictatorships … Anyway, whichever way you see, Senegal has always been an exception in Africa.

But some consider that Senegal has moved away from that legacy left by Sedar Senghor. Last year, former President Abdoulaye Wade [en], who was accused during his tenure corruption, nepotism and curtailing freedom of the press, was defeated in his highly criticized bid for a third term [en] in office.

With Wade’s regime at an end, some expected a return to those democratic roots. But these recent measures taken by the current government raise questions about its commitment to do so.

Even Wade, who was much criticized [en] during his regime, was always respectful of Senegal's tradition as a host country for freedom of speech activists. The failure of Wade's government was not about free speech activists, but was not regularizing the situation of refugees.

As deported Chadian blogger Nguebala told Global Voices in an email exchange:

“Under Abdoulaye Wade's regime, I was never arrested once by the police”

A coalition called “Right of Asylum and Freedom of Expression” was created to demand Nguebla’s return. In the following video, the coalition unpacks the context of the evicitions and the risks that the bloggers are facing:

Boly BAH, journalist for La Gazette (a Senegalese website) called for the sliding of Senegal's democracy to be stopped in his post “The Deviant Turn of a Democracy“:

Une dérive à stopper. Qui est le prochain sur la liste ? En moins de deux mois, le Sénégal a chassé deux opposants africains de Dakar. … C’est une concession grave à des régimes anti-démocratiques … Cette expulsion d’un défenseur des droits humains et leader d’opinion vers la Guinée, un pays « non sûr » et en proie à des tensions politiques, laisse apparaître un deal entre les autorités politiques sénégalaises et tchadiennes, en vue d’extrader Makaila Nguebla au Tchad où sa vie est menacée.
Le combat sera mené jusqu’au retour de Makaila et de Kukoi Samba Sanyang. …

Les pays n’ont pas d’ami mais des intérêts. En procédant aux expulsions de Kukoi Samba Sanyang, le Sénégal défend peut-être les relations de bon voisinage avec la Gambie. Et fait un clin d’œil à Yaya Jammeh, président gambien au cœur du règlement du conflit de la Casamance. La Gambie avait même facilité la libération des otages sénégalais, il y a quelques mois. C’est peut-être compréhensible de lui renvoyer la monnaie en expulsant son opposant-rebelle, Kukoi Samba Sanyang. Avec le Tchad, certes, il n’y a pas cette grande amitié, mais la nouvelle posture africaine de Idrisss Deby Itno vaut peut-être cette largesse.

Deby a le vent en poupe et avec sa forte colonie militaire dans le désert malien, le président tchadien est en pleine puissance sous-régionale. Le Tchad contribue aussi au financement du procès d’Habré. Maintenant, si le jugement d’Habré participe au renforcement de l’indépendance judiciaire africaine, l’expulsion de Makaïla reste plutôt suspecte. Le blogueur était un combattant de la démocratie. Un relais entre son peuple et l’extérieur. Il était la voix des sans voix tchadiennes, il informait des dérives de Deby parce que bénéficiant de cette liberté d’expression qui fait défaut à ses confrères restés au pays.

This drifting away from our legacy has to be stopped. Who is next on the list? In less than two months, Senegal deported two African political activists. … This is a serious concession to all anti-democratic regimes… This deportation of a human rights activist and opinion leader to Guinea, an “unsafe” country plagued by political tensions suggests a deal between Senegalese and Chadian political authorities. Next might be the extradition of Makaila Nguebla back to Chad where his life is under threat.

This struggle will continue until both Makaila and Kukoi Samba Sanyang return. …

Countries do not have friends, they have interests. In carrying out the evictions of Kukoi Samba Sanyang, Senegal may be maintaining good relations with the Gambia. He might also reach out to Yaya Jammeh, the Gambian President who is at the heart of the conflict in Casamance. Gambia has even facilitated the release of some Senegalese hostages in Gambia a few months ago. It is perhaps understandable to pay him back by expelling his rebellious opponent, Kukoi Samba Sanyang. With Chad, of course, there is no such great friendship, but Idriss Deby’s new african posture (his involvment in Mali) might be worth it.

Deby is on the rise and with his strong military forces in the desert of Mali, Chad's president is showing his full might in the region. Chad also contributes to the financing of [former leader of Chad Hissène] Habré’s trial. Now the Habré trial may help strengthen African judicial independence but on the other hand, Makaila’s deportation is rather dubious. The blogger was an advocate of democracy, a bridge between his people and the outside world. He was the voice of those Chadians without a voice; he informed the world about Deby’s excess because he enjoyed freedom of expression that his colleagues back home could not have.

Another recent issue is also symptomatic of the worrisome turn taken by Senegal on the protection of human rights.

Taking advantage of the media circus in Senegal caused by these two cases, a member of parliament of the presidential majority wants to file a bill for the return of death penalty.  Senegal abolished the death penalty in 2004 and the last execution was held in 1967.

Even Fekke Maci Bolle, a political movement led Youssou N'Dour, the current Minister of Culture and Tourism, has come out against this bill. The movement published its stance on its Facebook page:

Celui ou celle qui affirme que l'on vit confortablement dans le couloir de la mort n'y a de toute évidence jamais mis les pieds … On voit rarement une personne riche ou aisée monter à la potence … La peine de mort est la négation absolue des droits humains. Il s’agit d'un meurtre commis par l'État, avec préméditation et de sang-froid. Ce châtiment cruel, inhumain et dégradant est infligé au nom de la justice.
Cette peine viole le droit à la vie inscrit dans la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme.
Amnesty International s'oppose à la peine de mort en toutes circonstances, quels que soient la nature du crime commis, les caractéristiques de son auteur ou la méthode utilisée par l'État pour l'exécuter.

Whoever says that one lives comfortably on death row has obviously never been there … You rarely see a rich or wealthy person being executed … Death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is a planned and cold-blooded murder committed by the State. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is inflicted in the name of justice.
It violates the right to life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or how he committed the crime.

May 29 2013

Le Sahel et l'Afrique du Nord en ébulition

/ Afrique, Algérie, Énergie, Guérilla, Terrorisme, Mali, Touaregs, Sahel, Sahara, Coup d'État - Afrique / Afrique, Algérie, Énergie, Guérilla, Terrorisme, Mali, Touaregs, Sahel, Sahara, Coup d'État - Afrique

May 24 2013

Bases françaises en Afrique : on rouvre !

Les militaires de l'opération Serval ont « fait aimer la France dans toute l'Afrique », affirmait François Hollande lors de sa conférence de presse du jeudi 16 mai, ouverte et conclue par le Mali — décidément le grand œuvre de sa première année de quinquennat. Descendu à Bamako et Tombouctou dès le 2 février pour s'y faire applaudir, le président français avait assuré qu'il « vivait sans doute la journée la plus importante de sa vie politique ». Confirmant ce « retour de la France en Afrique », le nouveau (...) - Défense en ligne / Afrique, France, Golfe, Armée, Défense, Terrorisme, Mali, Guerre

May 23 2013

Double Suicide Car Bombings in Niger, 23 Killed

Benjamin Roger for Jeune Afrique reports [fr] that 18 soldiers, one civilian and 4 terrorists were killed early morning in an suicide car bombing in Agadez, Niger on May 23. He adds that military school students are currently being held hostages by another attacker following the bombing. Simultaneously, another car exploded in an uranium mine exploited by the Areva Group in Arlit, Niger. The militant group MOJWA has claimed responsibility for both terror attacks.

May 07 2013

« Là-bas si j'y suis » : mai 2013

Mardi 7 mai, dans « Là-bas si j'y suis », à 15 heures, sur France Inter, Giv Anquetil s'entretenait avec l'équipe du Monde diplomatique autour du numéro de mai. Serge Halimi revient d'abord sur son long éditorial, « Etat des lieux pour préparer une reconquête » : flambée des inégalités entre riches et (...) / Inde, Armée, Démocratie, Économie, Inégalités, Information, Médias, Politique, Presse, Protection sociale, Travail, Mali, Chômage - La valise diplomatique

April 30 2013

Quelle solidarité internationale ?

Guerres, violences, misère... Comment soutenir efficacement les populations concernées ? Le tintamarre médiatique, avec ses causes à la mode, installe une confusion dépolitisante entre aide, charité et solidarité, y compris au sein de l'Union européenne. En outre, le « terrain » constitue toujours un (...) / Afrique, Europe, France, Aide au développement, Action humanitaire, Inégalités, Relations Nord-Sud, ONG, Pauvreté, Protection sociale, Solidarité, Mali - 2013/05

April 29 2013

Au Mali, les populations mobilisées

Autosuffisance alimentaire, accès à l'eau, alphabétisation des femmes : le Secours populaire français mène avec l'Association malienne de solidarité et de coopération internationale pour le développement, son partenaire local, de nombreux projets dans la région de Kayes. / Afrique, France, Agriculture, (...) / Afrique, France, Agriculture, Aide au développement, Action humanitaire, Eau, Éducation, Femmes, ONG, Pauvreté, Santé, Solidarité, Mali, Afrique de l'Ouest - 2013/05

April 04 2013

In Global Downturn, Sustainable Development Begins at Home

Global Voices bloggers have been commissioned to liveblog the OECD Global Forum on Development in Paris on April 4-5, 2013. Leading up to the meeting, our team is submitting posts about development issues that help serve as weekly online discussion topics on their website (#OECDgfd)

Thatched roof Mali

Preparing a new thatched roof in Mali. Photo by Jean-Marc Desfilhes on flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

As Western economies struggle with rising debt and unemployment, their approach to development and cooperation with low-income countries and emerging markets has taken a twist. It is becoming more clear that sustainable development should not be based on external wealth or redistribution, but must instead be generated at home.

Foreign investment and remittances have long been identified as a crucial source of revenue for poor populations in countries like Mali or Cape Verde. Entire villages have been built out of remittances in Mali, for instance, mainly from immigrants to France. However, this does not mean that these countries are being helped to develop sustainably.

For most African countries, the positive ability to attract capital is often negated by lenient fiscal policies towards foreign investors that strip countries of public revenues to build up their economies. This trend seems was still on the rise worldwide in 2007 according to an OECD report “Tax Effects on Foreign Direct Investments”.

A report by Matthew Martin and Nils Bhinda from Development Finance International shows that in Tanzania, for instance, the influx of private capital from global mining companies increased the volume of gold and diamonds sales. However, this failed to produce the expected social benefits, such as increased government revenues or public investment in social infrastructure. In fact, various tax exemptions and fiscal incentives ended up costing Tanzania $140 million USD from 2005-2008.

Remittances: Money at what cost?

A  growing number of poor households worldwide are subsisting on remittances, according to the World Bank. Still the question remains: can these seemingly successful flows of migrants and money secure sustainable development and reduce poverty in the most affected countries?

Remittances from abroad to Mali amounted %3.7 of the countries GDP for the year 2005-2006, and according to some estimates remittances significantly decreased the number of poor in Mali and also reduced inequality. Cape Verde is another nation that has seemingly benefited from emigration as the country with the highest per capita remittances of any African country. With remittances amounting to 8% of the country's GDP, it has even overcome the challenge of establishing banking institutions for the poor on its many islands thanks to financial capital from migrants in Portugal, Brazil and the USA.

Because of such statistics, many international development institutions have attempted to design development policies based on remittance flows, by trying to convert this “subsistence” money into capital for infrastructure. There are some caveats to consider though.

Despite the growth of remittance flows, one should keep in mind that the very concept of remittances originates from a major outcome of global poverty: economic migration. Those who choose to leave their country are often exposed to risks and dangers during the transition (illegal border transfer, human traffickers, social and cultural isolation).

Moreover, remittances from migrants are highly dependent on the economic growth of the host countries. When unemployment in host countries rises, it frequently affects the type of labor available to most immigrants, putting both them and families back home at further risk of precariousness.

Finally, the peer-to-peer nature of remittances is both a blessing and a curse. As Hein de Haas writes in an article for Third World Quarterly in 2005:

The much-celebrated micro-level at which remittances are transferred is not only their strength, but also their main weakness, since this also implies that individual migrants are generally not able to remove general development constraints.

Because of the lack of incentives for locally-produced added value, it appears that remittances based on value created abroad can never be the sole base of a sustainable development strategy for low income countries.

Good measures for sustainable development

There are some measures that can be implemented to support foreign direct investment and remittances towards a more sustainable world.

First, transparency and accountability. With respect to foreign investments, governments should offer proper projections of the benefits for public finance, or projects should not be allowed to take place. Financial policies should encourage a permanent check and balance system for both private and public flows with an obligation of transparency for the source of the revenues and their further use. Transparency, in the form of regular and mandatory publications to civil society should be mandatory.

Low income countries often resort to the setting up Industrial Free Zones (IZF) to spur industrialization and create jobs in strategic locations with mineral resources. The creation of these zones have often led to economic and social instability through a constant race to lower costs, geographical mobility and low-quality production. Therefore if a government chooses to implement an IZF, it should also plan for a rapid conversion of labor and production capacity to evolve with markets.

This concept is all the more important because so far there has been no concerted effort to integrate local products of low income countries and services in global trade. Inter-regional trade should remain the main goal because it provides geographical proximity and reduces vulnerability to the whims of highly mobile multinational companies.

With respect to migration and remittances, a drawback of global inequality is the tendency of qualified students from low income countries to remain in richer countries to pursue careers, a phenomenon also known as the “brain drain“. As the recession takes its toll on employment in Western countries, a “reverse brain drain” effect has emerged for Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco and other countries where there are competitive salaries and working conditions.

It would make sense for policymakers worldwide to start to embrace a simple idiom to ensure sustainable development: the creation of wealth through added value and redistribution must start at home. Policies based on short term incentives, social inequities or external wealth injection might spur growth temporarily, but it is doubtful that they will sustain poverty reduction in the long run.

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