|Many riders wore facemasks for the pollution/sand|
Muammar Khadafi is still popular in Mali as he as been a major donor and has nearly completed the new government office complex (named after himself).
Upon arrival I contacted the US Embassy to find out about the security situation in the north of Mali and was advised not to go to Dogon country as I had originally planned. The following day the US Embassy issued a Warden Message (http://mali.usembassy.gov/warden_messages.html) warning:
"the Embassy has credible information of a possible attack in the immediate future against the U.S. Embassy in Bamako and U.S.-related interests to include the American International School of Bamako (AISB). It also has credible information of a possible kidnapping plot targeting Americans and other Westerners in Bamako."
So I changed my plans to go south instead of north to Dogon or Timbuktu. I recently attended a conference where retired Canadian Ambassador Fowler spoke about his capture and captivity in the Sahel by AQIM and I did not want to follow in his footsteps. I can always come back in the future and see the sights when things calm down.
|Sunrise over the Niger River in Bamako|
Bamako also stands out for its democratically elected government and like many of its neighbors is preparing for upcoming elections in 2012. Mali has seen the peaceful transfer of power from the military transitional government in 1992 (following a coup in 1991) to a democratically elected president and to another in 2002. The current president has promised to not run for a third 5-year term in 2012 clearing the way for a third democratically elected administration. Mali's neighbors are also in election cycles with Liberia holding elections in October 2011 (Pres Sirleaf-Johnson had promised to serve only one term but is running again as she couldnt see any other viable candidates) and in Senegal Pres Wade is running for a 3rd 5-year term in 2012. Mali is also being affected by refugees from neighboring Cote d'Ivoire where elections have failed to produce a functional government and is falling into a civil war. Algeria and Mauritania are also experiencing ongoing demonstrations. It will be interesting to see how the region develops with its many conflicts.