Mali Responds To Mitt Romney
As the foreign policy debate between Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney got underway last week, the Republican presidential nominee raised eyebrows when he repeatedly broached the thorny question of Mali, the once-stable African democracy that has faced both a coup and civil war in the past year.
“Mali has been taken over, the northern part of Mali, by al-Qaeda-type individuals,” Romney said in his opening statement as he made the case that the president’s approach to the Middle East (and the world) has been a catastrophic failure. However, no one from the Malian government had responded to Romney’s comments until now. In an exclusive statement to the Daily Download, Salif Sanogo, a spokesman at Mali’s embassy in Washington, D.C., said the following:
We actually followed the passage on Mali at the time of the 3rd debate between the two candidates to the presidential election. The remarks made by Mitt Romney translate indeed the gravity of the situation in the regions of the North of Mali. We do not have comments particular to make compared to this intervention, except for the fact that it was right. We once again thank you for the interest which you expressed for the situation in the regions of the North of Mali.
Forgiving Sanogo’s imperfect grammar, it seems that the new powerbrokers in the country might be looking for a friend in Mitt. After the ouster of democratically-elected President Amadou Toumani Touré in March, the international community issued fierce condemnations and has only come around to cooperating with the new regime out of a desperate desire to deal with al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups occupying the northern half of the country. The African Union, with European support, is now gearing up to intervene and restore Northern Mali to government control.
But the country’s new government — formed after a palace coup by disgruntled soldiers upset at what they saw as a weak response to a separate rebellion by Tuareg rebels seeking independence — seems to be grateful for any attention, and its embassy’s spokesman is just happy that Romney, far better known for his business acumen than foreign policy chops, gave them a mention. The former Massachusetts governor now just has to hope that “as Mali goes, so goes the nation.”
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