Meeting of the SI Africa Committee, Bamako, Mali
10-11 April 2015
The Africa Committee of the Socialist International met in Bamako, Mali, on 10-11 April, hosted by the two SI member parties in that country, the Assembly for Mali, RPM, and the Alliance for Democracy in Mali - African Party for Solidarity and Justice, ADEMA-PASJ, centering its discussions on the key issues of Security, Democracy and Development for the peoples of Africa.
At the opening ceremony, which was attended by members of the government and leaders of the two Malian SI member parties, the gathering heard words of welcome from Dr Boulkassou Haidara, Vice-President of the RPM, and from Prof. Tiémoko Sangaré, President of ADEMA, followed by speeches by Emmanuel Golou, Chair of the Committee, and Luis Ayala, Secretary General of the Socialist International.
In the working sessions which followed, the Committee members discussed an agenda which included two main themes: “Our commitment to putting an end to terrorism in the Sahel and beyond” and “Securing freedoms, rights and development through democracy”.
In regard to the first main theme, Hamadoun Konaté, Malian Minister for Solidarity, Humanitarian Affairs and Reconstruction in the North, made a detailed presentation on the Algiers Accord of 1 March 2015 resulting from extensive negotiations between the government of Mali and the northern armed groups. During the committee’s discussions, an analysis was made of the process underway in the country for national reconciliation and peace. An appeal was made for continued international support in order to move forward swiftly with the signing and implementation of this peace agreement in accordance with the commitments made by the parties involved.
Also under this theme, government minister Zeiny Moulaye gave an exposé on the security situation in the Sahel. The problems of transnational crime and the lack of democratic control of the security sector in the region were discussed, as were a series of vulnerabilities and structural deficits, and the fragility of the State and of the ecology. Included among the threats to peace and security in the continent, participants highlighted the significance of extreme poverty, the phenomenon of religious extremism, migration, drug trafficking, the proliferation of light weapons, terrorism, insurgencies, foreign exploits of the region’s natural resources and the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector. These factors had dramatic consequences on all aspects of political, economic, social and cultural life, and on governance itself in the countries of the Sahel region.
Participants highlighted the need to integrate the question of security in policies for democratic governance, to increase regional cooperation leading to a shared, collective strategy including the development of adequate information networks, programmes of crime prevention based on cooperation between the different security services and a reform of the justice sector to better protect citizens and to ensure the integrity of those responsible for administering justice. The important role of women in the prevention and the resolution of conflicts as well as in the consolidation of peace and reconciliation was equally recognised and which needed to be encouraged.
A Declaration on the peace process and national reconciliation in Mali was agreed, outlining the main issues involved and the views of Committee members.
The second main theme had two introductory speakers: Nancouma Keita from the RPM and Makan Moussa Sissoko from the ADEMA-PASJ. During the discussions, the fragility of democracy in many countries was highlighted and despite the significant advances made, as for example in the case of Mali, there remained many pressing tasks, amongst them the need to reinforce the State and the security forces, to strengthen the role of political parties and civil society, to empower women, men and the youth, to eliminate marginalisation and increase participation, to provide education for all, including women and girls, to ensure adequate training for a professional press, to effectively address the problem of poverty and its consequences, and to enhance regional cooperation. The need for states to fulfil their obligations as regards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and gender equality was also emphasised.
As part of its agenda, the Committee held a discussion on ways to enhance the work of the Africa Committee and to promote democratic socialism in Africa. The Committee recommended the creation of a summer university for the education of political actors and to instil the core values of the Socialist International, particularly at this time of increasing radicalisation and religious extremism. As a way to influence decision-making at regional level, the Committee was also in favour of the SI seeking a status within regional bodies such as the African Union, and to aim to form a socialist group within the African Union’s legislative body, the Pan-African Parliament. The Committee was firm in its resolve to deepen cooperation between its members and to strengthen solidarity and the shared goals of our International, opposing attempts to undermine it through alternative alliances which turn their back on the internal democracy and inclusiveness of our movement. The need for parties to fulfil their financial obligations was underlined as an imperative, as the organisation depended upon it. The SI Secretary General was recognised for his efforts towards the good functioning of the International and its Africa Committee. In relation to the next meeting of the Committee, to take place later this year, participants agreed on Mozambique as the venue.
During the third session, participants at the meeting shared information on the national situation in their respective countries. Positive developments were noted in Niger and Senegal, although it was acknowledged that democracy was an evolving process and international vigilance, support and solidarity was important for further progress to be made. The deficit of democracy and lack of respect for basic rights and freedoms in a number of countries was a cause of continued concern and the Committee reiterated its solidarity with the SI member parties in Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Mauritania and Swaziland. Calls were made for a peaceful end to the transition in Central African Republic, for successful democratic alternance in Benin, for encouragement to the progressive forces in Burkina Faso, and for further dialogue leading to a political, mutually agreed solution to the situation in Western Sahara. Recognition was extended to H.E. President Mahamadou Issoufou for the important advances made in Niger under his leadership and warm congratulations were expressed to the APC of Nigeria and President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on their recent electoral success, reiterating at the same time full support for all efforts in that country to consolidate democracy, to defeat and eliminate terror, and to bring progress, peace and stability. A Resolution on the key questions discussed by the Committee was subsequently issued.
Participants expressed their gratitude for the warm, fraternal hospitality extended to them by the two host parties, the RPM and ADEMA-PASJ, as well as by the President of the Republic of Mali, H.E. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose unwavering commitment to the Socialist International and to its values and principles was highlighted.