What We Can Learn From Africa's Response to Mali

Earlier today, the Malian Parliament speaker Dioncounda Traore was sworn in as interim president of the country. A spokeswoman for the US Department of State described this as a "very good step" for Mali, and that's because it is. Indeed, I would go further: in my view, leadership is back in Africa. Perhaps for the first time in the continent's history, an official body, the economic community of west African states (Ecowas), has succeeded in ending a coup in a nearby nation. That's something to celebrate.

Alassane Ouattara, who is president of Ivory Coast and Ecowas chairman, played a major role in bringing about this development by advocating the introduction of economic sanctions. On April 2, he announced: "All diplomatic, economic, financial measures and others are applicable from today and will not be lifted until the re-establishment of constitutional order." He also discussed the possible introduction of military troops. (There may be a motive for his strong stance. Ivory Coast has an unstable history and has been subject to many coups and plots of its own over the years.)

Still the situation in Mali is far from perfect, and stability is tenuous. The next step is to focus on restoring legal governmental power in northern Mali, which could otherwise destabilize the region and become a new Afghanistan and a base for Al Qaeda.

Although presidential campaigns in US and France are dominating the agenda in those countries, foreign policy should not be forgotten over the next few months. These two nations in particular should support and uphold Mali's struggling democracy (after all it is a Francophone nation, and a former French colony). Members of the Malian diaspora who live in the US, Europe or Canada, should also play a part in their country's future well-being, and not just observe from afar.

Now that leaders like Ouattara, or Dr. Jean Ping, who is chairperson of the commission of the African Union, are working together to promote peace in the region, the rest of the world should be ready to help in whatever ways are most practical. We ought to support such individuals: for after the global economy is revived, the next thing to build is a community of global leaders who share a commitment to a safe and peaceful world.

Africa has a bright future, and that's a vision we should all wish to foster. For that reason, the New York Forum Institute is offering a platform for dialogue and discussion, at Libreville in Gabon this June. I hope that you can join me there.