April 6-12, 2015

Weekly Media Monitoring report for Mali
Posted on April 20, 2015

1. Growing number of violent terrorist attacks targeting civilians
State-owned media

L’ESSOR, “Tirs d’obus sur Gao: Un mort, trois blessés", April 6th, 2015

  • Rockets and shelling in Gao (north Mali) killed a young girl and injured three other civilians in the early morning of April 5th 
  • Boni (central Mali) was also targeted by armed bandits in the nights of April 3rd & 4th – the assailants killed two civilians and injured a police officer
  • The government is calling for cooperation between the civilian populations and the armed forces, in order to prevent these terrorist attacks
  • The government’s recurring rhetoric is that these terrorist attacks aim to compromise the peace process that is currently underway, and which when finished would eradicate all terrorist groups in the country
    These terrorist attacks and guerilla warfare highlight the limited mobility of the armed forces – fear, tension and feelings of insecurity are rising in the population

GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON, “Communiqué de presse suite à l’attaque dans une foire à Diafarabé et assassinat d’un garde forestier”, April 7th, 2015

  • Four armed individuals attacked a market in Diafarabé, killing a forest ranger, and attempted to desecrate the Malian national flag at the town hall
  • The Malian government condemned these attacks, proclaiming that the armed forces were searching for the perpetrators
  • The government also reiterated that these attacks were aimed at undermining the peace process and called upon the public to stay vigilant and cooperate with the armed forces in order to help neutralize these terrorist groups
Privately-owned media

LE KATOIS, “Les roquettes commencent à tuer dans le Nord: Des populations plus que jamais complices et coupables”, April 8th, 2015

  • 4 terrorist-launched rockets fell on the city of Gao on April 5th, causing civilian casualties for the first time – it is believed that the explosives were being aimed at the armed forces, but missed their target
  • The author finds it disconcerting that the assailants were able to get away with the attack, managing to evade MINUSMA and Malian forces with ease
  • The author believes that the human rights standards imposed by the international community on the Malian forces has restricted the efficacy of their interrogations of terrorist suspects, which is partially to blame for the success of terrorist attacks
  • The author states that these terrorists have no human rights because they are not human, and that it is a citizen’s duty to crush them like vermin
  • The author calls upon Malian authorities and foreign forces to revisit their approach to respect for human rights when it comes to these terrorists

L’AUBE, “Entre attaques des rebelles-banditisme armé et règlements de compte dans le septentrion: le nord s’embrase !”, April 9th, 2015

  • This article talks about the rapidly degrading security situation in Mali 
  • In particular, the author highlights the incident in Diafarabé, and the message delivered by the assailants to the public
  • The assailants stated that their acts were not directed against the general population, but rather against the government officials and authorities who are oppressing them – they promised to kill every one of these “symbols of power”, who they characterized as animals
  • Despite the perpetrators’ claim that they were only targeting state officials and civil servants, the attacks on Boni and Gao that resulted in 3 civilian deaths tells a different story – innocent civilian populations are increasingly being targeted by terrorist attacks as well

It is noteworthy that the government communiqué on the subject omitted to mention that the perpetrators made it clear that they were targeting state officials, labeling the incident instead as a random act of terror

2. Algiers Accord Peace Process – Progress & Hurdles
State-owned media

L’ESSOR, “Paix et réconciliation: Le premier minister propose une sainte alliance de tous les maliens”, April 10th, 2015

  • Prime Minister Modibo Keita met members of the political class and civil society to talk about the signing of the Algiers Accord
  • Keita announced that the government had received a document from the CMA (Coordination des mouvements armés de l’Azawad) rebel group that stated their intention to sign the accord on April 15th 
  • Keita stated that though the country does not have the means to go to war, it does have the means to establish peace – he called for cooperation and unity from all Malians
  • The site and exact details of the meeting with the CMA in order to sign the accord had yet to be determined at this time
Privately-owned media

L’INTER DE BAMAKO, “Accord d’Alger: Néfaste et dangereux pour le Mali”, April 7th, 2015

  • The author warns that the proposed Algiers Accord is harmful and dangerous for Mali, calling it anti-constitutional and unequal 
  • The author claims the Accord is based on false allegations being made about the territory known as Azawad, which he claims has no real history or culture, other than what has been invented by the rebels
  • The author believes this is a bad agreement that will not lead to any lasting peace in Mali. He believes the French are supporting the rebels and the agreement in order to protect their own strategic geopolitical interests
  • The author warns that the goals of the rebels are to create a lawless state, where they will engage in criminal activity, drug trade, human trafficking, natural resource exploitation, etc. 
  • Though the author supports the president and Malian government, he believes it would be in the country’s best interest for people to mobilize against the Accord  

L’INDÉPENDANT, “Kidal: Les indépendantistes piétinent le drapeau national”, April 8th, 2015

  • The national movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) celebrated the second anniversary of its state’s « independence » on April 6th.
  • The rebel groups got children to walk and stomp all over the national Malian flag, while brandishing Azawad’s own flag.
  • These actions were seen as provocative and insulting by Malians, as well as an impediment to the peace process that has taken 8 months to negotiate, and which many Malians see as presenting MNLA demands on a silver platter
  • Antagonistic actions like these risk hampering the progress and efforts that have been made by all negotiating actors, as any lasting peace in the country will require meaningful reconciliation between Malians and the rebels. 

MALIWEB.NET, «Accord de paix inter malien d’Alger : Le paraphe des groupes armés annoncé pour la mi-avril », April 9th, 2015

  • More than a month after the Malian government signed the Algiers Accord (on March 1st), it seems as if the CMA has finally accepted to sign April 15th, according to the mediating Algerian parties responsible for the negotiation 
  • This news comes as a great relief for many Malians, as they can finally look forward to peace, stability and reconciliation in their country

LE MATIN, “Soumaïla Cissé, président d’Urd: “La majorité nous a insultés…”, April 9th, 2015

  • The leader of the opposition party, Soumaila Cissé, said he felt insulted by the majority party for calling him a « non patriot », after he expressed reservations related to the Algiers Accord
  • The Malian government seems to be rejecting any dissent regarding the Algiers Accord, claiming that these critics are not patriots and do not love their country 

Comments like these from the Malian government indicate that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done when it comes to reconciliation, democracy and the acceptance of diverging dialogue, before any meaningful peace can occur.

Foreign media

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, “Le concept de “la population de l’Azawad” n’existe pas (ministre malien)”, April 6th, 2015

  • Ironically, the Malian minister of national reconciliation, Zahbi Ould Sidi Mohamed, has declared to the press that the concept of an “Azawadi population” does not exist
  • Given that one of the rebel movement’s major demands is the official recognition of Azawad as a geographic, political and juridical entity by the Malian government, comments like these will clearly hinder any chances of them signing the Accord
  • Mohamed did concede that if the local populations voted democratically to designate Azawad as their regional appellation, then it would be legitimate

RADIO-FRANCE INTERNATIONAL, “Nord du Mali: la CMA ne paraphera pas le projet d’accord de paix”, April 11th, 2015

  • After having initially expressed their intent of signing the Algiers Accord on April 15th, the CMA & MNLA went back on their word and announced that they would not be signing the document
  • The rebel groups declared that they would not sign the agreement until their proposed amendments had been taken into account – their major demand being that the political and juridical status of Azawad be officially recognized by the Malian government
Social media

AZAWAD TWEET @SaharaRebelle, April 9th, 2015

  • This tweet highlights some of the confusion related to the CMA’s inexplicable change of position related to the signing of the Algiers Accord
  • Translation: “What happened in Algiers? Why did the CMA decide to sign after April 6th, when it had refused beforehand?”

AZAWAD TWEET @SaharaRebelle, April 11th, 2015

  • This tweet documents a protest that took place on April 11th in the city of Kidal by members of the CMA & MNLA, which was barely reported by the Malian media
  • The protesters are holding signs that say “Yes to Azawad – No to signing the Algiers Accord” and “We demand the immediate withdrawal of our case from Algeria, as Algeria is not neutral”

3. UN Security Council meet about Mali
State-owned media

MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, “Discours du ministre des Affaires étrangères du Mali devant le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU”, April 9th, 2015

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdoulaye Diop, spoke to the UN Security Council to address the report published by the UN on March 27th about the situation in Mali
  • The Minister stated that contrary to what was reported, the Malian armed forces has not violated the ceasefire, as verified by MINUSMA
  • The Minister reaffirmed that the Malian government has constantly acted in good faith during the peace process, and criticized the CMA for not doing the same. The minister stated that the CMA’s continued refusal to sign the Accord risks jeopardizing the entire peace process as it would undermine the necessary confidence and trust between all the parties to the agreement. 
  • The Minister also said that this continued refusal would favour the destabilizing actions of the terrorist groups that have been spreading violence across the country since March 
  • The Minister declared that he believed most members of the CMA wanted peace, but that their voice was too quiet next to the few radicals who were creating obstacles in the peace process. Diop called upon the CMA to seize this historic opportunity for peace; in his mind there is no alternative to peace. 
  • Diop asked the UNSC for their official endorsement of the peace agreement. He also asked that they exert pressure on the CMA to sign the accord, and to impose targeted sanctions on those creating obstacles to the peace process.  
Foreign media

EL WATAN, “Mali: l’ONU demande aux rebelles du Nord de signer l’accord d’Alger”, April 11th, 2015

  • In a resolution adopted by consensus, the UN Security Council urged the CMA to sign the Algiers Accord without any further delay
  • The Security Council expressed that they found the agreement to be balanced, complete and asked all the actors involved in the peace process to seize this historic opportunity to resolve the crisis
  • The agreement itself would give a greater autonomy to regions in the North of the country, while stopping short of accepting the rebels’ demands for independence and official recognition of Azawad as their state territory

4. MINUSMA admit to excessive use of force by peacekeepers
Privately-owned media

LE KATOIS, “Rapport d’enquête de l’Onu: Une insulte aux victimes?”, April 8th, 2015

  • After an investigation by the UN acknowledged an excessive use of force (which led to the deaths of 3 protesters) by MINUSMA peacekeepers during violent protests that took place in Gao on January 27th, several Malians expressed dissatisfaction with the report. 
  • In particular, families of the victims were not happy with efforts made to discredit the protesters’ causes, and shift blame on their shoulders

Reactions like these indicate that that there is some lingering shared tension between both MINUSMA and Malians. MINUSMA feels as if it was abandoned by the local authorities during the protest, while Malian civilians feel outraged that the report appears to place part of the blame on the victims.

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