In response to the French imperialist intervention in January, the Coalition of Patriotic Organizations of Mali (COPAM) called demonstrations against the presence of foreign troops in their country. COPAM demands that the current transitional president, Dioncounda Traoré, resign. They target him for giving the green light to troops from the Economic Community of West African States to intervene in Mali under the auspices of the U.N. (Radio France International, Jan. 11)
COPAM is against foreign troops but would support foreign assistance — logistics, intelligence and training.
Traoré publicly reviewed the first contingent of French soldiers that arrived in Mali. He called on the French to support the re-establishment of the central government’s control of northern Mali.
According to GuineeConakry.info, an online Web news service based in Guinea (Conakry), COPAM drew about a thousand people out to its demonstrations. The situation was so tense, with rumors of mass, chaotic demonstrations, that banks closed and the streets were otherwise deserted. Currently, the government has banned demonstrations and protests.
A public opinion poll for the IFOP consultancy firm estimates that about 63 percent of the French support the intervention. Almost all the major political parties, with the exception of those on the left, have fallen into line behind President François Hollande, whose misnamed “Socialist Party” has a long history of supporting French imperialism.
The French Communist Party’s Jan. 12 statement reads, in part, “France, the former colonial power, can only appear as wanting to pursue the dominating practices of Françafrique.” “Françafrique” is the term used to refer to the old imperialist habits and traditions from the period before World War II, when French colonialism controlled vast sections of Africa. The statement challenged Hollande’s right to intervene without parliamentary authorization.
The Party of the Left, which is closely linked to the PCF, said on Jan. 15 that it “denounces in advance any attempt by France to settle the situation by a neocolonial war.”
In its Jan. 19 statement, the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) said, “France, which is the source of the problems, can’t be the solution. In fact, France, which since African independence has not ceased to support the worst dictators, the worst massacres, the worst wars, which is implicated in the Rwandan genocide, is not the best situated to defend the rights of African people. We can only denounce Françafrique.”
The NPA’s statement concludes, “We should reaffirm our support to the progressive African and Malian groups opposed to French intervention.”
Since the French intervention began Jan. 11, there have been symbolic protest demonstrations in front of French embassies or consulates in Algiers, Cairo, Istanbul and London. These have generally raised the point that the French intervention is in part an imperialist attack on Islam.
The demonstration in Algiers condemned Algeria’s decision to allow French warplanes to overfly the country in order to carry out attacks on Mali, which lies on Algeria’s southern border. In London, about 20 women, dressed in traditional niqabs [an Islamic face covering for women], with their children and 80 men, showed up in front of the French Embassy. That demonstration pointed out and challenged the fact that wearing the niqab in public in France is illegal.