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April 13-20, 2015

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

1.     Algiers Accord Peace Process
State-owned media

Conspicuous by its absence – The major state owned media newspaper, L’Essor, made almost no mention of the peace negotiations; likely because the government seemingly lost face after affirming with such certainty that the rebels would sign the accord on April 15th, only for the rebels to renege on their promise a few days beforehand.

Privately-owned media

INFOSEPT, “Mali: L’équation est à présent simple pour la CMA: signer ou périr” 
April 13th, 2015

  • This editorial points the finger at the CMA for being “enemies of the peace”. The author calls out France for protecting the CMA, despite the rebels’ lack of respect for Mali (as demonstrated by their trampling of the Malian flag), and them being guilty of war crimes.
  • The author believes that the CMA is not remorseful for its crimes and does not want peace, any signing of a peace accord would be done reluctantly, in bad faith and only because the international community was forcing them to.
  • The author does not believe signing any agreement with the rebels will bring about peace, calling instead for peace to be obtained through war and combat, a sentiment that seems to be increasingly popular among the general population.

L’OEIL, “Accord d’Alger: l’accord de la distraction!”
April 14th, 2015

  • This author echoes the feelings of many Malians, that negotiating with the CMA, and especially with the MNLA, will never be fruitful, as they are unpredictable and untrustworthy.
  • The author calls upon Malians to realize that their destiny is in their hands, and they must reconquer their lost territory in the North, as this is the only way to obtain a lasting and definitive peace. 

LE RÉPUBLICAIN, “Guillaume N’Gefa, directeur de la Division des Droits de l’Homme de la Minusma: “Il faut donner la parole aux victimes pour légitimer le processus de réconciliation"
April 17th, 2015

  • The director of MINUSMA’s Human Rights Division, Guillaume N’Gefa, has said that in order to legitimize the peace and reconciliation process, a voice needs to be given to victims, and justice needs to happen in order to repair the damage that has been caused to them.
  • N’Gefa and the Division have been working to empower victims, as well as to increase participation and reinforce the capacities of civil society and human rights organizations in the Malian transitional justice process.
  • If Mali is to achieve any lasting peace, it is transitional justice initiatives like these that will be critical in confronting the past, establishing the truth, and putting an end to impunity, in order to promote national reconciliation. 
Foreign media

RADIO-FRANCE INTERNATIONAL, “Nord du Mali: un nouveau round de négociations doit s’ouvrir à Alger”
April 15th, 2015

  • A delegation from the CMA travelled to Algiers in order to participate in the 5th round of negotiations over the peace accords, along with delegations from neighboring countries, MINUSMA, the EU and the United States.
  • They travelled without their leader Bilal Ag Acherif, and without any clear intention to actually sign the document.
  • Two smaller movements within the CMA, the HCUA and CPA, accused the more extremist MNLA faction of blocking the peace process. There seem to be serious divisions within the CMA movement over whether or not to sign the agreement.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, “Mali: la mediation appellée à une signature de l’accord de paix le 15 mai à Bamako”,
April 19th, 2015

  • The international mediation team called on all parties to the conflict to sign the Algiers Accord for peace and national reconciliation at a ceremony in Bamako on May 15th.
  • Threats of potential sanctions were made against any party that impedes the peace process.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, “Mali: la rebellion ne paraphe pas l’accord de paix d’Alger”,
April 20th, 2015

  • The rebel groups again refused to sign the Algiers Accord, despite international pressure to do so, and calls for the concerned parties to come together on May 15th in Bamako to sign the agreement.
  • A CMA spokesperson stated that threats and sanctions against them only served to reinforce the support of the Azawadian people for its cause
  • The rebels have apparently asked for a reopening of discussions on the content of the agreement, a request that has been deemed inacceptable by the Malian and international representatives. 

Analysis

At this point the peace process appears to be at a standstill, with neither side of the conflict appearing to give in on their positions, and calls from the international mediation for the rebels to sign the agreement on May 15th in Bamako. In the current state of affairs, it seems unlikely that a peace agreement will be reached even then, as the issue of officially recognizing Azawad remains a major point of contention. Internal divisions are growing within the CMA, as the MNLA do not appear to want a peace agreement in any form. The CMA will likely also have to face targeted sanctions from the international community. Meanwhile, many Malians are growing increasingly distrusting towards the rebels, and are calling upon their government to use force and warfare in order to achieve peace and stability. 

Social media

IBRAHIM @sysawane, April 13th, 2015

This tweet quotes Thierry Perret, a journalist and expert on the situation in Mali: These drug traffickers have been paying large sums of money to the rebels in exchange for refusing the Algiers accords ”

AZAWAD TWEET @SaharaRebelle, April 17th, 2015

This tweet by a CMA rebel expresses frustration in light of the threat of sanctions: “By threatening us, who do Algeria and the international community think they are? The allies or the enemies?”


2. Terrorist Attacks Targeting Civilians and MINUSMA

State-owned media

L’ESSOR, “Ansongo: Un attentat suicide fait 3 morts et 16 blessés”, April 15th, 2015

  • A suicide bombing occurred at the entrance of the MINUSMA base on the outskirts of Ansongo on April 14th. The vehicle, arriving from Gao, was driven at full speed right into the control post of the MINUSMA camp, in a kamikaze style attack.
  • Despite attempts by UN soldiers to slow the vehicle down by opening fire, the kamikaze attack was ultimately successful as the vehicle exploded right outside the camp entrance.
  • The attack injured 9 people, including 2 UN soldiers. The perpetrator and 2 children were killed in the attack.
  • The MINUSMA camp in Ansongo also houses French soldiers and members of the Malian armed forces.

ESSOR, “Mali: 2 morts et 1 blessé dans l’attaque d’un convoy de fournisseurs de la MINUSMA”, April 18th, 2015

  • A UN supply convoy was attacked on April 17th by 2 assailants on the outskirts of Gao. Two of the civilian drivers were killed by the assailants, before the supply trucks were set on fire.
  • The other members of the convoy managed to escape, although one person had been injured by a bullet.
Privately-owned media

SAHELIEN, “Un commerçant abattu de 4 balles dans la tête dans la région de Gao”, April 14th, 2015

  • A shopkeeper named Aboubakrim Dicko Abikil was murdered on April 13th in Gorom Gorom, near Gao.
  • Two assailants shot and killed the man at point-blank range, in front of his family.
  • It appears this attack was a reprisal for Abikil’s actions 9 months earlier, when he helped arrest a jihadist who was carrying a rocket launcher.

MALIWEB.NET, “Mali: El-Mourabitoune revendique l’attaque d’Ansongo”, April 17th, 2015

  • The jihadist group El-Mourabitoune claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks committed in Ansongo on April 15th, which targeted the UN base camp.
  • The attack was purposely targeted against UN soldiers from Niger who were staying at this camp, in response to the Nigerien president’s participation in the march that took place in Paris in support of Charlie Hebdo.

3.     Oppression Reaches New Heights in Menaka region
Social media

IBRAHIM @sysawane, April 13th, 2015

  • This tweet makes reference to acts of oppression being committed by the Azawadian rebels against people in the city of Menaka, northeast Mali: “In Menaka the rebels are forbidding the population from travelling with their Malian identity cards or from demonstrating their affiliation to Mali”.

IBRAHIM @sysawane, April 17th, 2015

  • Again, this tweet references a situation that seems to be largely ignored by state and private media, the oppression of Malian loyalists by rebels in the northeastern regions of the country: “In Menaka the women came out in large numbers to call for a return to the Malian state, they were beat up and injured by a group from the MNLA”.

4. Human Rights Watch Report Decries Situation in Mali
Privately-owned media

LE RÉPUBLICAIN, “Rapport de Human Rights Watch sur le Mali: État de droit faibles et population en péril”, April 16th, 2015

  • A report from Human Rights Watch on Mali made public on April 14th, has denounced the human rights situation in the country.
  • The report criticized a lack of State intervention and organization, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by armed rebel groups, for a state of anarchy, insecurity and human rights abuses that have grown rampant against civilians.
  • Corinne Dufka, HRW director of research for West Africa, called for the government to act in order to restore security and the rule of law, especially by reestablishing a presence in the North of the country.
  • Dufka called upon the Malian government to take measures to stop the violent crime and abuses that have grown frequent, committed by armed rebel groups and the State’s own security forces, and which are threatening the population’s security in the north and center of the country.
  • HRW decries the fact that fighting in mid-2014 led to a retreat of government bureaucrats and soldiers in the region, notably actors in the justice system. This has left a vast portion of the territory without any state authority, thus becoming vulnerable for human rights abuses to be committed with impunity by various groups of rebels, pro-government militia and bandits. 
  • After conducting interviews and field studies, HRW observed that there had been resurgence in violent crime being committed by bands of criminals and armed groups in the North since 2014, with little to no reaction from the government.
  • On top of attacks targeting civilians, HRW also noted an increase in the number of attacks targeting the UN’s stabilization mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Since its creation in July 2013, MINUSMA has been the subject of at least 79 hostile attacks, in which 35 UN soldiers have been killed and more than 130 have been injured. Armed Islamic groups have claimed responsibility for most of these attacks.
  • Bandits and armed groups have also attacked at least 13 vehicles being used by humanitarian aid organizations since November 2014, which has seriously compromised the capacity for these organizations to come in aid of vulnerable populations in need.
  • HRW also observed that many people had reported the use of child soldiers by rebel groups and by certain pro-government militia.
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