On Sunday, August 12th a rally of over 60,000 people was held in Bamako to call for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing violent crisis in northern Mali. This “national peace and reconciliation” meeting was organized by prominent Muslim leaders, social movements, and key political figures to advocate for a Malian-led solution to the instability in the West African nation. Madani Ousmane Haidara, an influential Muslim leader, told an AFP reporter, "Our country needs peace and national healing. It's up to Malians to find a solution and I ask all Malians to forgive each other,"
The mass rally in Bamako was a harbinger of the struggle to come between organized popular movements in Mali and the forces of foreign military intervention, the latter of which would only worsen both the political crisis in the country and the humanitarian disaster.
A month ago, few would have suspected that Mali’s government was in line to have its power usurped by its 7,500-man army. President Amadou Toumani Touré, whose present whereabouts are unknown, has been lauded for his democratic governance and was a likely candidate for the ever elusive Mo Ibrahim prize for African leaders who voluntarily cede power. Next month’s elections were to seal the deal for the political career of a man who has played by the rules, since he first took power in a coup in 1991 that earned him the title “soldier of democracy.”