Why is it that the people of the North can be left to suffer while the leaders head to France? How can leaders in the midst of a crisis abandon the people who depend on them? Malian Prime Minister Diarra is in France and head of the ousted MNLA is in France. It seems an injustice for leaders to be flaunting around gaining press internationally while the dire situation persists.
I spoke to friends in Gao yesterday and heard that MUJAO is cracking down even more on the local population (maybe angry because of their losses in the fighting with MNLA last week, and now taking it out on the population). Girls as young as 5 in Gao are now being veiled with only their eyes exposed, for fear they will be punished. This is not the form of Islam that Gao citizens are accustomed to. Locals that have stuck it out for the struggle of the last 8 months are now leaving in fear, and the town is turning more and more into the shell of its former self. For Tuaregs, who are oftentimes lighter in complexion, it is desirable to flee with the Arab traders north to Algeria where they can blend in, and prospects might be better. Songhai, who are often darker, would stand out too much on this voyage. Although there are many more who would like to leave, the rumours that Malian military are arresting northerners once they come south are strong; also even if northerners make it south, the economy in Bamako is deeply depressed and the prospects of making enough for rent and family are slim if one does not have family arrangements.