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Okayafrica TV: Tinariwen And The Fight For Freedom

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Note: The situation in Mali, to put it colloquially, is a mess. To be real: the depth and complexity of the conflict supersedes our ability to summarize it with the nuance it deserves. Below is our humble attempt, but for a clear and thoughtful explanation of the issues, check out Gregory Mann's piece in Foreign Policy.

A military coup last month, led by mid-level army officers, interrupted what would have been regularly scheduled, democratic presidential elections; the president at the time of the coup,  Amadou Toumani Touré, was stepping down on April 29, 2012, barely a month away.  The military junta, which now calls itself the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR),  was unhappy with the sitting president because of mismanaging the 2012 Tuareg Rebellion  - a continuation of a conflict dating back to 1916 between the Tuareg people and the Malian government - which led to demoralizing military defeats in the North of Mali.

Ironically however, the destabilization caused by the coup allowed for several rebel factions to take over parts of northern Mali, an area that has now been declared by the rebels as the sovereign state of Azawad (although this hasn't been recognized by the international community). Whether or not a Tuareg free-state in the north is good or bad, the fear is that the general unrest has helped radical Islamist groups, such as Ansar Dine, establish a foothold in Mali. The coup lasted only three weeks because economic sanctions on Mali by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) forced the reigning military to secede power to an interim government. However, the coup damage has been done, and for the time being Mali has been split into two parts.

Following the coup d'etat in Mali, the well-known Tuareg band Tinariwen publicly voiced their support in favor of the uprising in the North. Tinariwen bassist Eyadou Ag Leche's comments to Belgian public broadcaster VRT supporting the drive for a Tuareg state in Northern Mali, a reflection what he told Okayafrica TV a few months back, just after  Muammar Gaddafi was killed in Libya. Leche expresses an "appreciation" for Gaddafi and all that he provided for the nomadic Tuaregs during periods of drought for example, but admits that Tuaregs didn't have full knowledge of Gaddafi's brutal dictatorship in Libya. Above, Ag Leche explains a side of the conflict not often represented in Western media.

Video shot by Jay Sprogell, French translation by Siddhartha Mitter.

News Brief
Photo: Getty

Here's What You Need To Know About The Political Unrest In Sudan

Thousands have been protesting the Sudanese government over the weekend, supporting the military's plans for a coup.

Sudan's transitional government is in turmoil as thousands of citizens conducted a sit-in protest against them, over the weekend. A group of Sudanese citizens have called on the military to disestablish the nation's current government, as the country struggles with the greatest crisis they've seen since the end of former dictator Omar al-Bashir's controversial ruling, two years ago. The weekend's pro-military protests come as anti-military protestors took to the streets earlier this month to fight for civilian-ruled laws.

Military-aligned demonstrators assembled outside of the famously off-limits entrance of the Presidential Palace located in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Monday. Gatherers set up tents, blocking off access to two main intersections, cutting off access to the capital for those inside. Police attempted to wave off crowds with teargas, with Khartoum state officials saying they had, "repelled an attempted assault on the seat of government," in a statement issued Monday.

The assembly was called for by a coalition of rebel groups and political parties that support Sudan's military, accusing the civilian political parties of mismanagement and monopolizing power under their ruling. Demonstrations began on Saturday, but Sunday's gathering saw a lower attendance. According to Reuters, by Monday afternoon, thousands, between 2,000 - 3,000, had returned to voice their concerns. 52-year-old tribal elder Tahar Fadl al-Mawla spoke at the helm of the sit-in outside of the Presidential palace saying, "The civilian government has failed. We want a government of soldiers to protect the transition." Alongside a 65-year-old Ahman Jumaa who claimed to have traveled more than 900 kilometers (570 miles) from Southern region Nyala to show his support.

Protesters are demanding the appointment of a new cabinet that is "more representative of the people who participated in the December 2019 revolution that eventually led to the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir", Al Jazeera reported from Sudan. Protesters headed towards the Presidential Palace, where an emergency cabinet meeting was being held when they were met by police forces.

Pro-civilian political parties have plans for their own demonstration on Thursday, the anniversary of the 1964 revolution that overthrew Sudan's first military regime under Ibrahim Abboud and brought in a period of democracy that the country still struggles to uphold.


Sudanese Twitter users shared their thoughts online, with many drawing similarities between the current unrest and other political crises the nation has faced.


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