After the war: political solutions to the conflicts in the Sahel region
DI Marco Di Liddo

On 28 July the Malian population will be called to the polls for the election of the new President of the Republic. It is a historic event, resulting from months of negotiations between the central government and resistance movements, which has profound political significance and considerable implications for the security of the country and of the entire region of the Sahel. Only a few months ago, at the beginning of 2013, such an event seemed impossible. In fact, at that time, the fragile government in Bamako had to manage the delicate phase of restoration of democratic rule of law, after the brief coup in March 2012, and was pursued by the offensive qaedist militias in the north of the country. The French military intervention and the African Union averted a further deterioration of the crisis and allowed the gradual normalization of the security situation, the partial recovery of the political and social activities and, above all, returned a glimmer of hope and more optimism for the future to the Malian people.

Despite the high symbolic value of the election many questions about the future continue to heavily burden Mali. The first is purely logistics and refers to the actual ability of the country to organize free, transparent and functional voting in a time when, especially in the north of the country, the social-psychological impact of the Tuareg rebellion and the ethnic and cultural conflict between the north and the south are still very strong in the civilian population. Moreover, although significantly improved, the security framework of the northern regions continues to present problems, above all the activities of Al Qaeda-inspired groups both linked to the local community and made up of foreign militants. In this respect, the history of Mali provides contrasting examples, since, until 2011, the country rightfully boasted of international acclaim as a model of African democracy, while the events of 2012 revealed deep political, social and military divisions that will need time and willingness to negotiate on the part of major Malian politicians, in order to be reunited and remedied.

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