Last week we held two roundtable discussions in Bamako on opportunities for peaceful change in Mali, based on our latest research in the country.
The research, entitled Supporting peaceful social, political, cultural and economic change in Mali, highlights a strong desire in the country for debate on the vision of a ‘new Mali’. This includes how to move from the old system of ‘consensus politics’ and corruption to one of inclusion and participation, especially for marginalised groups such as young people and women. The roundtables we held confirmed this need.
On 19 May we met with government and donor officials, and on 20 May with NGOs and Malian researchers and students at the University of Bamako. The discussions aimed to generate debate around some of the key issues raised in our report, including the tension between modernity and tradition in the country, and what Mali in the 21st century should look like. This touched on the importance of debate and encouraging citizen participation.
Mali may have moved on from the crisis in 2012, but as events in Kidal showed last week, security in the country remains fragile. The ongoing conflict with the Mouvement national de liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA), the presence of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda au Maghreb Islamique (AQMI), and the ongoing trade in people, drugs and arms, which are what brought violent conflict to the country, have not yet been addressed. In parallel, the country as a whole is dealing with important questions on the future of Mali, including citizen–state relations and what it means to be Malian today.
Through our report and efforts to open up debate over these issues, we hope to contribute to a process of peaceful change and development in Mali.