Mali’s Inability to Complete the Habituation Phase

After Mali saw an oppositional-led rebellion in the north and a devastating military coup in the south, sustainable democratic entities have emerged within the past two years. The country has seen a successful parliamentary election with more to come in 2014, shown economic resiliency despite large security instabilities and have developed a free media in order to accompany freedom of expression policies.

Many scholars, such as Laurence Aida Ammour, have assessed that Africa’s youth bulge would provide large existing youth blocs with an opportunity to become legitimate political actors while also supplying an enhanced motivation to contest existing leadership. While a collection of youth factions have exhibited this kind of behavior particularly in North Africa and the Sahel, Mali has yet to display such behavior. In large part, this is due to the fact that Malian’s youth, 62 percent is under the age of 30, has yet to fully adapt to the democratic process.

Abiding by that same narrative, this month a senior Malian political leader openly contended, “the biggest problem of democracy (in Mali) is the absence of the Malian citizens.” In lieu of growing instability throughout the heavily populated southern parts coupled with a lack of education and food, it is easy to construe that Malian youth and older citizens have alternative matters to worry about.

Even more disheartening, leaders have largely demonstrated an invested interest in achieving democratic ideals. Although a majority of Mali’s political leaders have abided by a clientist apparatus and relied upon corruptive activities in the political process, once elected, most have revealed strong willingness to complete the habituation stage.

Simply stated, in able to complete the habituation stage and sustain liberal entities in Mali, citizens and in this context youth factions, also need to become important actors in the political, social and economic sectors.


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2 Responses to Mali’s Inability to Complete the Habituation Phase

  1. smurp106 says:

    This is a very important observation about the Malian context. The degree to which citizens are able to and choose to engage with the political process and democratic consolidation points to a lot of factors about the country’s particular history. I think the case of Mali is particularly trying, even taking into consideration the democratic “snowball effect” and the large youth population, because of the country’s history as one of the poorest nations with stagnant human development compared with most of its regional counterparts. A professor of mine from Notre Dame actually is working to see the effect that media, specifically radios, can have on rural participation and connecting the less educated, rural population to the capital and to the democratization process. It’s not specifically focused on youth, but Mali also seems to lack a large women’s movement and thus, I find this research very relevant and potentially applicable to youth as well!

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