Press TV has interviewed Mr. Nii Akuetteh, African policy analyst, Washington about this issue. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: The human cost of the French intervention in Mali is increasing by the day. What do you make of where this situation is headed as the French troops are continuing their offensive in Mali under a complete media blackout?
Akuetteh: I have heard stories of the media blackout and that is extremely undesirable because it means therefore that we don't really know, we don't have independent journalists letting us know what is happening. Either we know nothing or we don't know if what we are being told are lies. So number one, that is a terrible situation and pressure has to be put on the French to stop it.
In terms of the displacement of the people, I do think that when you have war there are displacements. So the question is what are the circumstances of the French intervention? The French went in two weeks ago on Friday - so it's actually been 16 days, but Mali was attacked by fighters from Libya since 13 months ago - January of 2012.
The Malians and the Africans have been at the UN begging for international help so that they could take back the north of Mali. So I do not... I think that the French intervention did not come in the middle of the vacuum. The Africans have actually been begging for international help so that they can take back Mali from the group that took it back in March and April.
Also, all throughout last year about 400,000 Malians from the north were displaced. And so the displacement is terrible, the war is terrible.
My view is that good government has to be established in Mali so it can establish its authority over Mali. That is the real solution to the problem.
Press TV: You're speaking of how Mali really needs a proper governance and stability to progress further and nobody is arguing against any atrocities that these rebels may have committed in the north of Mali.
However, right now what the French military is supporting is basically pushing out these rebels, but supporting a military junta, which was condemned by the UN just a year ago. They're not talking about democracy, they're not talking about freedom for the Malian people; they're just talking about counter insurgency and counter terrorism.
Akuetteh: Actually the remnants of the Malian army who overthrew the elected government in march 2012 - you are quite right, they did overthrow it.
But one of the things I give our African neighbors credit for is that they forced their soldiers to step down so that right now, technically you could say, because I do think that the soldiers have too much influence, but officially now the Malian government is not a junta, it is an appointed government headed by a civilians called President Traore and he has a prime minister Mr. Sissoko - both of them are civilians so it is not correct that Mali now has a junta.
Now, the Malian army is a very discredited force. Even in Bamako they have been doing wrong things. So we need to get to democracy quickly - I agree with you. Where there may be a difference, in fact the US State Department I disagree with them because they've been saying, well, let's first hold the elections.
Well, a country at war, you cannot have credible elections. So my view is that international help needs to be given to the Africans and the Malians to take control of the government and then if clear elections can be held there will be elections held under security controlled by Obama.
I think the rebel groups, the so-called rebel groups - there are four of them with dubious agenda - I don't support them. They invaded Mali pretty much from Libya and they have destabilized the country. So you need stability so then you can bring democracy.
Press TV: The French president as well as the US president have spoke together a couple of days ago by telephone and decided they need to support each other for bringing about counter insurgency and counter terrorism in north Africa.
The US has already sent forces to "train" forces in countries like Niger, like Ghana and like also Mali. Don't you see that there is another agenda being pursued over there?
Akuetteh: What you've asked is a great questions. I keep them on two tracks: there is Mali; and then there is the plan that the US announced. You are quite right. They announced in December that they are going to be training a lot of African countries throughout this year.
I have to tell you on a personal note - the US has its military unit called AFRICOM that they created to focus on Africa. I've written against it. Four days ago the top general, General Ham was here in Washington. We had a meeting with him and I confronted him saying, "If you trained the Malian army and they collapsed and they overthrew the government. Why would you give the same medicine to 35 other African countries?
He answered the question partially saying OK we admitted what we trained the Malians to do did not succeed. It was a broad meeting so I couldn't follow up.
So I'm saying that I agree with you that this (AFRICOM) program is to train African soldiers in counter insurgency - I disagree with it. The real solution for any kind of uprising or terrorism will be democracy.
But the Mali situation is different because you have Tuaregs heavily armed who came from Libya, they took over the country, they've been brutalizing ordinary Malians for 13 months - they've pushed out 400,000 and the Africans went to the UN seeking international help. So I look at the two situations differently...JA
(via Press Tv)
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