On July 12, young protesters from Mali’s northern region of Gao clashed with police forces as they demonstrated against the nomination of former armed rebels as interim local government authorities, notes Kamissa Camara, the senior program officer for Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy. As part of the 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement to end a period of conflict in Mali, these former fighters will replace elected local officials in Gao and other northern regions of the country, pending new local elections, she writes for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage:
Since its creation in the late 1970s, the National Union of Students and Pupils of Mali (UNEEM) has helped guide the country’s democratic youth movements. Malian students were among the main actors in the March 1991 revolution that toppled dictator Moussa Traoré. They also sustained the most casualties on March 22 of that year, a day Malians refer to as “Black Friday” in memory of the 300 young Malians who lost their lives.
Two decades later, following the 2012 military coup, Les Sofas de la République, a youth group that includes artists and musicians, media professionals, political parties and civil society groups, was created. It promoted a dialogue between those in favor of the coup and those advocating the strict application of the country’s constitution, which had been suspended by coup leaders.
Kamissa Camara is a West and Central Africa political analyst. She is a fellow with Foreign Policy Interrupted and writes in her personal capacity. She blogs at www.kamissacamara.com and tweets at @kamissacamara.