Although critics had worried about the outcome of Mali’s presidential election, it turned out to be a success story as former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita bagged a landslide victory in the run-off recently, taking Malian politics to another level.
It is a praiseworthy effort that democracy has returned to Mali after a coup d’état led by Capt Amadou Haya Sanogo toppled then president, Amadou Toumani Toure in March 2012.
However, with the very Sanogo – who had given lots of headache in talks to reach an agreement with the various Taureg rebel groups as well as the deployment of West African peacekeeping forces – now promoted to a rank of army general, more worries for the new government.
Having tested power and rewarded for his courage to challenge the government at the time when the Head of State needed to act promptly to support the army to fight the rebels in the North, Sanogo would still want to continue having a voice in most decision-makings at the top.
The promotion could be considered as a compensation for handling power back to civilian rule, but Sanogo might be tempted to use it as stepping stone to rise as leader, especially if the government is not succumbing or submitting to his ideology or way of thinking.
Lessons learnt from previous appointments or promotions, has proven that people cannot trust military leaders or generals with too much powers.
Little-known Desire Mobutu, a journalist with a military training was appointed by Congo’s first elected Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba to lead the armed forces, but he turned around to plan the controversial assassination of Lumumba, Congo’s Independence hero.
If that is long ago, the latest situation in Egypt is a testimony, where Mohammed Morsi appointed Gen Abdul Fattah al Sisi as head of the Egypt Armed Forces who has now snatched power, imprisoned him and is slaughtering his supporters and arresting his brotherhood party bigwigs.
Sanogo might turn out to be an exception, but for the government of newly elected President Keita to operate freely and smoothly he must be constantly kept at bay or from intervening in any politics.
With lots of vigour and charisma, Sanogo should instead be urged to motivate his fellow Malian soldiers to take over control of the north and ensure that the country do not fall back and become havens for fugitive Islamist jihadists.
Free rule for Keita
Apart from the intervention or the unpredictable character of Sanogo, President Keita’s hands might also be tied by the French who might want to control, if not dictate everything, leaving him unable to deliver the goods to most Malians.
It is true that Keita’s election is thanks to the timely move by the French who helped liberated North Mali from the grips of Al Qaeda linked militants, Mali still has its full rights as a sovereign nation.
Of course, the government still needs advice from French experts to stand again on its own, however, the new government must be given full authorities to manage affairs.
The funds raised by international donors to help Mali must also be judicially used and fully accounted as proof of good governance so as to woo more aids.
President Keita must also not forget the problems of the Tauregs, especially those mentioned in the terms of the accord reached by the interim administration and various rebels groups.
Apart from reconstruction, much of the funds should also be used to bring back Taureg refugees in neighbouring countries, reintegrate those returning as well as set up reconciliation programmes to unite all Malians so as to forget the past and move Mali ahead.
The current peace in Mali at the moment can only be sustainable if the standards of a true democratic government are observed with projects of reconciliation, reconstruction and development earmarked involving all Malians even those abroad.