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Inside Story
Mali's new leader: the challenges ahead
As an interim leader is sworn in, we ask if he can bring the country back from the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2012 17:09

The first steps towards restoring civilian rule in Mali are underway. Dioncounda Traore, the country's new interim leader, has been sworn in.

He has just 40 days to make a difference. And, already, he is promising total war to do just that.

Traore says he will take the fight to the north if Tuareg rebels there refuse to talk.

His appointment comes a month after military rulers staged a coup, leaving Mali in a state of political chaos.

"What we are asking the MNLA is to reconsider this declaration of independence and to say clearly if they are ready to come to the negotiating table with us."

- Tiebile Drame, a former Malian foreign minister

During his inaugural speech, Traore highlighted the daunting task ahead:

"Mali, the land of peace, tolerance and dialogue is split. Our people in the north are suffering from all sorts of atrocities. Our secular republic is under threat. This is the most difficult moment Mali faces."

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the Malian capital Bamako, said: "Poorly equipped and trained, the Malian army is in disarray. Its top brass feels humiliated and betrayed by the political elite.

"The success of the transitional period will, to a large extent, depend on whether the interim president can build good ties with the man who staged the coup. Captain Amadou Sanogo and his colleagues are likely to hold key positions in the national unity government."

So, is Mali's new leader up to the challenges ahead? And will he be able to bring civilian rule back to a country on the brink of a humanitarian crisis?

Joining Inside Story with presenter Jane Dutton to discuss this are: Tiebile Drame, a former Malian foreign minister, former consultant to the UN on human rights and a founder of the group Party for National Renaissance; Jonathan Offei-Ansah, the editor of News Africa; and Sylvain Touati, an analyst on African politics and an associate fellow at the French Institute for International Relations.

"It's not going to be that easy to reorganise the army and we don't know what really is the deal between President Traore and the junta right now and we will have to find out what is the balance of power between these two forces within the new government. Then, even if the Malian army is ready to take the offensive, it will be very difficult to fight in the north. The Tuareg rebels control the north, they know the region very well, they were composing most of the military units of the Malian army before that were based in the north. So logistically and even strategically it will be very difficult for the Malian army to retake control of the north."

Sylvain Touati, an analyst on African politics
Source:
Al Jazeera
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