Tuesday, November 27, 2012

LDS Member Yeah Samake Continues His Campaign To Become President Of Mali Despite Military Coup

On March 22nd, 2012, Yeah Samake, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, was just six weeks away from possibly becoming elected President of Mali when a barracks mutiny turned into a full-fledged military power coup, replacing the highly-regarded outgoing President Amadou Toumani Toure with a cadre of unknown junior officers. Samake immediately condemned the coup, but it did put the proposed elections on indefinite hold at the time.

On November 26th, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Samake has not given up his quest for the presidency. In the months since the coup, Samake has been working as an emissary for Interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, meeting with world leaders to try to fashion support for the new government while continuing his candidacy. Elections are tentatively scheduled for April 2013, although John Campbell, an expert on Africa with the Council of Foreign Relations, believes a strong interim government would need as much as two years and international support to restore order in Northern Mali and create enough stability to hold valid elections. The northern two-thirds of Mali is controlled by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and instability and harsh Sharia law have displaced as many as 1.5 million Malians while further aggravating the existing food scarcity.

Samake was personally devastated by the coup, and his wife had to kick him in the ass to get him started again. She told him to knock off the pity party and start acting like a leader again. So Samake strapped on a bullet-proof vest under his suit, prayed for safety, and, despite a military-imposed curfew, walked through five checkpoints and waited hours to meet with Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, the leader of the coup. Samake said he demanded that Sanogo return power to a democratically elected civilian government. Capt. Sanogo listened and allowed Samake to depart in peace. Soon afterward, an interim prime minister was appointed.

Samake still serves as the mayor of Ouelessebougou, a post to which he was elected in 2009. He provides numerous updates on his political activities on his blog, and is soliciting donations. If elected, Samake's goals are to 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. Samake's wife, who describes herself as a "still hopeful First Lady" on her blog, recently wrote that the one thing the coup failed to destroy is the Malian entrepreneurial spirit. Instead of hollering for more "gimmedats", Malians are selling their wares on the roadside and finding more ways to provide for their families. She says that the women are taking the lead.

Perhaps Yeah Samake can succeed in Mali where Mitt Romney failed in the United States.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Man, that guy has guts. I would be scared to death to be him.