Sunday, January 20, 2013

Who is Amadou Haya Sanogo?

by Clifford F. Thies

Amadou Haya Sanogo is the strong man of Mali, one of several U.S.-trained military officers to have recently staged coups in Africa.

In March 2012, Sanogo, a mid-level military officer, overthrew the government of Amadou Toumani Touré. Touré had himself overthrown the government of his predecessor in 1991, and headed the government until elections were held the following year. (His predecessor had come to power similarly, in 1968.) Touré was then elected and then re-elected President in 2002 and 2007.

The stated reason for the March 2012 coup was Touré's ineffectiveness in combating the Tuareg Rebellion that had begun upon the return to Mali of fighters who had been employed by Qaddafi during the Libyan Revolution. The Tuareg are a nomadic people who live in the deserts in the northern section of Mali.

Following the March 2012 coup, the army of Mali fell apart, and the rebel forces seized most of the north. At this point, in-fighting broke out among the rebel forces, with the Islamist faction prevailing.

Also following the 2012 coup, neighboring African countries and western countries condemned the coup, and applied sanctions against the country. Only after Sanogo agreed, in April 2012, to install a provisional government and schedule elections were the sanctions lifted. During this time, the now Islamist-dominated rebels pushed into the mid-section of the country, threatening the capital and a complete takeover. When the rebels seized Konna, about 400 miles from the capital, the French government decided to intervene.

The provisional government of Mali includes as acting-President Dioncounda Traoré, a career politician who, as a young man, was educated in the former Soviet Union and, like most politicians in the country, is a member of the country's socialist party. Sanogo, nevertheless, remains the real power in the country, as indicated by independently-conducted opinion polls, and also by the dismissal of the acting head of parliament by the junta and by the medical evacuation of the acting-president to France after a mob broke into his offices and beat him up.

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