Yeah Samake is a citizen of the West African republic of Mali who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of 18 siblings in his family, he went on to complete a bachelors degree in teaching English as a second language in Bamako, Mali and obtained a masters degree in public policy at Brigham Young University.
But he didn't come to the United States to stay. Moved by compassion towards his own people, he returned to Mali and ran for mayor of Ouélessébougou, elected with 86 percent of the vote. At that time, the municipality was ranked 699 out of 703 in terms of economic development, transparency, and management, with a tax collection rate below 10 percent. Within one year, Ouélessébougou jumped to the top ten cities in Mali with a tax collection rate about 68 percent. Samake accomplished this by increasing citizen participation through a tribal council system, and by challenging the culture of corruption.
His success triggered a popular movement to elect him president of the country. So Samake accepted the challenge and launched a campaign for the April 29th, 2012 elections. Samake wants to champion principle-centered leadership, ensure efficient use of scarce resources, stamp out corruption, increase food sufficiency, reform health care and education, and promote greater economic investment and development by improving security.
Unfortunately, fate has just thrown Samake a curve. On March 22nd, 2012, a barracks mutiny turned into a full-fledged military power coup in Mali, replacing the highly-regarded outgoing President Amadou Toumani Toure with a cadre of unknown junior officers. In a televised statement, the military officers representing the country's new rulers said they were "putting an end to the incompetent regime of Amadou Toumani Toure." The new leaders are upset over the fact that President Toure has been unsuccessful in putting down a persistent rebellion by Tuareg tribesmen in the north. Unfortunately, the indigenous Tuareg tribesmen were fleshed out by an influx of Libya Tuareg tribesmen who left after the Obama-instigated rebellion against Moammar Qaddafi to the point where Malian military forces could not effectively cope with it. The Malian troops complained they did not have enough arms to counter the northern rebellion, and the young officers who took power seem to have tired of Toure's rhetoric of reconciliation, and his government's inability to restore control in the north.
The BBC reports that the leader of the coup is Capt Amadou Sanogo, and that the objective of the Committee for the Re-establishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR)is not to permanently retain power, but will return power to a democratically-elected president as soon as national unity and territorial integrity are established. However, Capt. Sanogo also said the constitution has been suspended.
Yeah Samake wasted little time in reacting and choosing sides. He put on his Captain Moroni "Title of Liberty" hat and issued the following statement:
The Party for Civic Action and Patriotic (PACP) followed with amazement the mutiny of men of rank which has degenerated into a usurpation of democratic authority.
The PACP condemns with the utmost vigor the confiscation of power by the military calling itself the National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR).
The PACP asks all of the Sovereign People of Mali to mobilize for the defense and consolidation of democratic gains.
Our personal political ambitions should not get away from pledges to spend the splendor and purity of the great values that are based on the foundations of living together. This is what strengthens confidence and cohesion among citizens of a country that is our Mali.
We ask the military to urgently restore the unity of the various military corps for the tranquility of the population and make appropriate arrangements for the protection of persons and goods throughout the national territory.
We invite Malian politicians to organize and demand the immediate transfer of power to the people of Mali by the formation of a unity government to ensure continuity of administration and maintenance of the electoral calendar in strict compliance with the constitution.
Long live democracy!
Long live Mali!
Divided we all lose! United we all win!
Yeah Samake's wife posts her own reaction on her website.
The new military junta has not made any statements about the effect of the coup upon the impending elections, thus it's possible they might be delayed. The coup itself may yet falter, since the mutinous troops are poorly equipped, led by a mid-ranking soldier and they do not have the backing of all Malian forces. In fact, the well-trained and organized Red Berets unit is loyal to the president and he is believed to be under their protection. International condemnation of the coup has been voiced by the U.N. Security Council, the United States, the European Union, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
Yeah Samake's decision to return to Mali instead of remaining in the United States now seems to be particularly inspired.