Is Mali’s Captain Sanogo losing control of the ship?
Since he led the March 22, 2012, coup, Captain Amadou Sanogo has been the real power in Mali. But is the French military intervention shaking up the power dynamic in the capital of Bamako?
As French aircraft pounded Islamist targets at the start of the French military mission in Mali over the weekend, the man who vehemently opposed a foreign intervention was visiting wounded Malian soldiers in hospitals.
Wearing his trademark fatigues capped with a green beret and carrying a wooden baton – a new sartorial addition rumoured to hold magical powers – Captain Amadou Sanogo was shown on state TV talking to soldiers on hospital beds.
Speaking to reporters at the hospital, the 39-year-old army captain who led Mali’s disastrous March 22, 2012, coup appeared to starkly change his tune. This time, he was positively welcoming.
“We’re congratulating ourselves for having the French by our side. They’re playing a major role in air support in today’s operations. Right now, I’m talking to you as a happy man,” said Sanogo before graciously adding, “I want to say thank you to all our partners.”
It’s questionable whether Sanogo today is a happy man or if he’s genuinely happy about the presence of foreign troops in the West African nation.
“It’s forced,” says Gregory Mann, associate professor of history at Columbia University. “Sanogo has to change his tune. When he made that trip over the weekend, he was just trying to remain relevant.”
Over the past nine months, Sanogo has been the ultimate political authority in Mali.
In the days following the March 22, 2012, coup, which ousted a democratically elected president, the young army officer turned into an overnight celebrity, dominating the airwaves on state television, addressing Malians in their native Bambara in a populist mix of nationalist and anti-elitist discourse.
Real power in southern Mali, as every Malian knew, rested in Kati, the sprawling military barracks outside Bamako, where Sanogo was based.
But the French intervention in Mali is seeing a change in Bamako’s power dynamics.
“Those images of Sanogo visiting wounded soldiers in Bamako, Kati and [the frontline central Malian town of] Sevare show that he’s attempting to stay relevant and by going to Sevare, he does not want to be seen as being stuck in Kati,” said Bruce Whitehouse, an anthropologist at the Pennsylvania-based Lehigh University.
lost control of the ship?
more like kicked off the ship..the french are firmly in charge..he will now suffer from relevance deprivation syndrome..