Jean-Jacques Cornish

What was Mali’s coup leader thinking turning his back on Algeria?

There are fewer global trouble spots where it is easier to say I told you so than Mali.

The dirt-poor, landlocked West African country has made one bad decision after another.

The military coups in 2020 and 2021 indubitably rank at the top of the list.

The pretext for the putsches was that the authorities were unable curb the jihadi extremism rendering the Sahelian nation of 22,5 million ungovernable.

When the regional organization ECOWAS slapped sanctions on Mali for its unconstitutional change of power, as it did again Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger for exactly the same reason, they quit the body.

Ill advised as this show of temper was, it is explicable, as is the decision to end historic ties with Fence which has over the years sought military solutions to clearly socio-political and challenges.

Ironically, this is exactly the path that coup leader Assimi Goïta has chosen

One has to ask what he was thinking when he denounced the Agreement For Peace And Reconciliation in Mali that resulted from the Algiers process.

From its bitter history fighting integrists, Algeria is internationally recognized as an expert in this field.

Throughout its efforts to find peaceful solutions to Mali’s security problems and restore the stability crucial to development, the nation’s northern neighbour, with which it shares a 1400 km other has studiously avoided interfering in  the internal affairs of Bamako.

It has, according to a statement from Algeria, shown “sincerity, good faith and unwavering solidarity towards Mali.”

Assimi has now been forced to suspended all political activity in Mali to silence opposition demands for an explanation as why he has broken his promise to hold February elections that would have restored Mali to constitutionality.

Algeria maintains Assimi’s “denunciation of the Agreement For Peace and Reconciliation by Mali absolutely does not correspond in any way to the truth or to reality.

“Indeed it has escaped no one’s notice the the Malian authorities have been preparing this  decision for a long time.

“The warning signs  for two years have been their almost total withdrawal from the implementation of the  Agreement, their almost systematic refusal of any initiative tending to relaunch the implementation of this Agreement, their contestation of the integrity of international mediation, their desiignation of signatories to the Agreement, duly recognized, as terrorist leaders, their request to withdraw from (the UN stabilization mission) MINUSMA, the  recent intensification of their arms programs financed by third countries and their recourse to international mercenaries.”

The Algeria statement  said closing the military option is a threat to Mali unity and territorial integrity.

“It carries within it the seeds of civil war in Mali, it postpones national reconciliation instead of bringing it closer  and it finally constitutes a source of real threat to regional peace and security.”


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.