Mass anti-imperialist mobilizations win pan-African solidarity – Workers World
A historic mobilization of the Malian people by the hundreds of thousands in support of the transitional government in Mali and against the harsh economic sanctions and implicit military threats imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has created a momentum of pan-African solidarity across the continent on January 14.
Mass rallies and marches took place across Mali. The largest, in the capital Bamako, with a population of over 3 million, was broadcast live. Live commentary indicates that it was watched across Africa. Other demonstrations took place in Timbuktu, Kadiolo and Bougouni.
The sanctions were announced on January 9 in Accra, Ghana, and include the closure of land and air borders, the suspension of financial transactions and the freezing of Malian state assets in ECOWAS central and commercial banks. The sanctions were quickly backed by the United States, France and the European Union (EU). China and Russia have in turn blocked imperialist attempts to get the sanctions approved by the UN Security Council.
ECOWAS wants elections to be held by February 2022, while the transitional government says it needs more time to stabilize the country.
Mali is a former landlocked French colony, whose biggest export is gold. The most populated region of the country is in the Sahel region of Africa, on the southern border of the Sahara Desert.
The US-NATO war in Libya in 2011 resulted in the transfer of large quantities of military weapons to the region from Libyan government stockpiles. In a complicated situation, previous Malian governments then lost control of the region to various armed groups – some with legitimate grievances and others with unknown agendas. Assistance from other countries was requested.
More than 10 years later, Mali is still occupied by thousands of foreign soldiers. The EU has hundreds of soldiers as part of the Swedish Task Force Takuba. France has thousands of soldiers in its Operation Barkhane. There is also the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with around 16,000 soldiers, police and civilians. There is still no peace and security for the Malian people in the Sahel.
A popular coup wants France out of Mali
On May 24, 2021, a new government came to power in Mali through non-traditional means: a military coup. Led by the very popular Colonel Assimi Goita, currently President of Mali and President of the National Committee for the Salvation of the Malian People, he is trying to rally the country to take charge of its destiny. It seems to be making progress – perhaps too much for the imperialists and those who follow their example.
The Malian people want France and the EU out of the country. The Malian Armed Forces, although reduced, are preparing to take control of the situation in the Sahel. When Russian military trainers were brought in to replace French advisers, alarm bells rang in the imperialist camp. Sanctions soon followed, led by ECOWAS.
The day after the sanctions were announced, neighboring Guinea, in an act of solidarity, said it would refuse to apply ECOWAS sanctions. Speaking on behalf of the Guinean government, Lt. Col. Aminata Diallo said, “Our air, land and sea borders remain open in line with our Pan-African vision.” (youtube.be/ztYixk_N46E)
On January 22, an International Day of Solidarity with Mali was called with actions in Bamako, Mali; Brazzaville, Congo; Cotonou, Benin; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Conakry, Guinea; Niamey, Niger; and Cayenne, French Guiana; Washington D.C.; New York City; Berlin; Brussels; Paris; London; Milano; and Barcelona. A mobilization in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, was banned by the government.
Watching the January 14 livestream from Bamako was incredibly inspiring. Famous Malian political activist Adama Ben Diarra, wearing his trademark cap with a Cuban flag and the image of Che Guevara, began his opening speech by singing to tens of thousands of people in Independence Square: “Down with imperialism! “Down with France! Down with colonialism! and “Down with racism!”
And Acting Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga addressed the crowd on behalf of the government and observed: “All of Africa is watching Mali today. To a certain extent, the fate of Africa is being played out today in Mali. (AFP, January 15, 2022)