Dialogue “must begin now” in Mali to reconnect the country

Peace Direct calls for open talks between local groups, communities and future leaders. Following the resignation of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita yesterday, we call on the country to begin to reconnect with its people to avoid escalating tensions, rising conflict and a potential health emergency brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

After months of uncertainty and instability in the country including mass protests against alleged corruption, deteriorating national security, and insurgency from armed groups, soldiers arrested a number of senior political figures including the President in response to growing dissatisfaction among Malians, and repeated calls for the President to resign.

Peace Direct has been monitoring the situation closely to understand the likely impact the uncertainty caused by the coup is having on communities in Mali. We are working with partners in the country to understand how the situation is developing and what this might mean for peace in Mali.

Our local partner in Mali recently shared how the growing insecurity has already caused mounting challenges for the population – a lack of food security, the deterioration of and lack of access to health services, and a disruption to agricultural and animal rearing activities, which many hundreds rely on for their livelihoods. Insecurity remains the main cause for concern among communities.

“It is the vulnerable groups who pay the heaviest price”, he said.

We hope for a solution that meets the needs of local communities and addresses the growing dissatisfaction in the country.

For CEO of Peace Direct, Dylan Mathews, “a path forward must be one of dialogue over armed violence. We implore the army not to intervene in ways that may further destabilise the country at this critical time. The resolve we see everyday from our local peacebuilding partners is a reminder to us of the strength of Mali’s civil society and their commitment to non-violence. At this time of political and social turmoil, we must support peacebuilders to strengthen connections and increase coordination within civil society and communities across the country.”

Mali’s new military rulers are promising “a civilian political transition”, leading eventually to a general election. Change always brings with it the opportunity for movements to grow and divides to be bridged. With the right support, we believe that this pivotal moment in Mali will help the country build a more peaceful future, built by communities themselves.

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