NDI’s regional director for Central and Western Africa, Christopher Fomunyoh, outlined political and technical challenges facing Mali after last March’s military coup in testimony Dec. 5 before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) presided over the hearing, “Addressing Developments in Mali: Restoring Democracy and Reclaiming the North.” Among the challenges Fomunyoh cited were “an on-going armed occupation of two-thirds of the country and a humanitarian emergency in the north that has displaced an estimated 450,000 people; persistent political uncertainty in the capital, Bamako; and a severe food shortage that is affecting the entire Sahel region.”
Fomunyoh noted that if the current situation were allowed to fester, it would have a negative impact on Mali’s neighbors in West and North Africa, especially Niger, Mauritania, and Algeria, with which Mali shares “common and often porous borders.”
As the international community tries to “forge a path toward elections in 2013” in Mali and rebuild democratic institutions, Fomunyoh stressed that future institutions must be “more inclusive, effective, and transparent in their management of public affairs and resources.”
Active U.S. support for Mali’s return to civilian democratic rule would also bolster the hand of pro-democracy forces within the country and further reinforce the work of regional bodies, such as the African Union, that are deeply invested in Mali’s return to democratic rule and have benefited from American support in the past, Fomunyoh said, urging the restoration of U.S. aid programs in Mali.
“Despite the numerous challenges confronting Malian democrats today, I am optimistic that with concerted efforts and the right kind of support Malians will be able to rebuild a stronger, renewed democracy that works effectively for all of the country’s citizens.”
Read the full statement here.
View the hearing here.
Published Dec. 5, 2012
Updated Dec. 10, 2012