The security context has deteriorated significantly in recent weeks. The attack of Ecobank and the more recent of Banamba, came increase concerns of a population inhabited by the sense that insecurity extends and that nothing is done to stem this state of affairs. Despite the fact that the security forces are increasingly trained to deal with the threats, the fear of a failure of our safe system continues. In this adverse climate, the Minister of security and Civil Protection, General Salif Traoré, answered questions of Journal of Mali on these hot topics that make the news and concerned the Malians.
The security context seems to deteriorate. How do you explain the intensification of attacks in a time so short?
The enemies of peace are busy, but there is not a more gaping hole than before. We are in full rise, many materials are acquired, the training of the security forces are moving well with the assistance of our strategic partners, and we are recovering the field particularly in the South and in the Center. But it is true that at the same time, and especially in recent weeks, there was attacks on axes, attacked positions and even a few bloody in Bamako robberies, while we dismantle networks, sleeper cells. It's pretty hard to accept for ourselves, but we must not fall under emotion. We must be lucid and learn from each incident that occurs.
Who is the enemy which is opposite: these are terrorists, jihadists, bandits?
It's the same thing, it's the same family. Today we struggle to make the difference between one who pretends to be jihadi, who pretends to be terrorist and the highwaymen. We make no difference, and that's why in Bamako and surroundings, the anti-terrorism task force that we had designed, prepared and trained to combat terrorism, the FORSAT, is now used against organized crime. She's essentially who is cleaning the criminogenic nests. For 2 or 3 weeks already, this force is working intensely.
Does this mean that previously we did not have the resources to do this? Why does start just now?
It doesn't start now. You know, for the human resource of quality, it takes time. We have our usual conventional forces that are there for the presence, for investigations, for community policing. But a certain type of intervention requires a certain type of forces. In Mali, and not that in our country, the situation of weapons has become worrying. A lot of weapons out there.
Banditry became extremely violent, even petty criminals have guns. Faced with this situation, the police classic, conventional armies can not effectively act. This is why we have a dynamic to make the more militant forces and create special forces. It necessarily takes time. But the first elements are already prepared and take action. You saw them in action at the Radisson, also at the level of the hotel North South. These are the elements here which, today, view of our partners, give satisfaction and which, if adventure a terrorist attack were to occur, would be sent in the first line.
The general impression is that the security forces have air been overtaken by events. The bandits commit their crimes with confidence without fear of being molested. Did you understand that feeling and that answer you?
I wouldn't quite say that our forces are outdated. I can understand the despite of the population, but I bring you up to the challenge to find me one country where there are no acts of banditry, robbery or terrorism. It no longer exists. The world must learn to live with it. This requires a change in behavior. Almost all the cases we've lived could be avoided or reduced if the first witnesses had the simple reflex to call the police, the gendarmerie, the FERRY or approaching an authority, to say, '' I saw something, I have my doubts".
The fact that there is not this kind of reflex is a handicap for us. In other countries, if you are in a place where you shouldn't be, you're going to stop because people are going to call the police. It isn't that we are overwhelmed, to the contrary, but the context is also that the bandits are more numerous and better organized and equipped.
Is not also a matter of posture? When you see our police officers in the city, we don't have the impression that they are on the alert, ready to deal. What do you do to combat this?
We are working on. You saw that for two weeks we are erecting on some major junctions of Bamako, security stations through the deployment of men on motorcycles. There are additional vehicles at intersections. The police you see along the road are assigned to road safety. They are there to ensure the smooth flow of traffic. They are not there to fight, they have not been trained for this.
The police has always been response units. You have the TRAY and BSI which are units made to combat banditry. You see that these aren't the units that are prepared to deal with men equipped with heavy weapons. But today unfortunately, bandits impose us this kind of fighting in the city and so it requires a change of concept in the doctrine and that's what we are doing.
I ask the people to understand that this change, not only in Mali but everywhere else, takes time to be put in place once again. To change habits, to change mentalities, and that doesn't change from one day to the next. We have challenges at the level of the workforce, we are engaged in a great recruitment process and we need to be more and more combat units able to deal with armed bandits.
There is also a lack of confidence of the population towards the security forces considered often corrupt…
I wouldn't make waffling saying that it does not exist. It exist! But unfortunately there are no corrupt without briber. It is essential that we change positively and all together. Today, what's happening especially in the level of traffic? Everyone is pressed and in good standing with respect to the texts or not, it is the citizens who tend to reach tickets to agents.
We encourage this kind of corruption. I know that there are officers who are demanding things, but you must understand that this is not accepted by the administration. Whenever we have a case confirmed, we prevail. If someone oversteps the rules, it is sanctioned and it can go up to the radiation.
Why not do as ivory coast where it happens in a public way to launch strong signals?
Attention! These are police officers we are talking about. It is not good to generalize. In addition, come say in public "we have sanctioned so-and-so", I don't know if it's productive.
We have an internal inspection, we means at their disposal so they can make the rounds and observe officers in their work. These are measures of discipline which are made in-house. We didn't need a lot of advertising to manage it. But a plaintiff with evidence will know what happens to his complaint.
To combat the different mentioned threats, intelligence is just as important. How to do when people are afraid to inform because they fear reprisals, and know that they will be not protected?
You are right, this is the heart of the device. As long as there is no information and therefore information, it will be difficult to secure the population. As long as there is no trust, it doesn't.
We cannot deploy police officers everywhere, behind every citizen. Today, we are developing technology to complete the so-called human source intelligence. We are putting in place a new shorter green number of 5 digits. This number will be the 80 331. We believe that with this, across Mali to call to report a suspicious fact or activity.
With the intervention system that we are putting in place with special forces, we believe that we can reasonably reduce response times. Appeal, the nearest intervention unit will be activated to intervene. We rely on the good cooperation of the people to make it work.
In recent days, there has been hundreds of arrests. Are they related to the recent incidents? At what level are the surveys?
There are tracks. We launched operations to sweep of Bamako and criminogenic areas were visited. There has been raids. We came across people that we were looking for for a long time. The arrested persons are identified. If there is nothing against them, we let them go. But all those who have drugs or weapons are kept and are subject to a TICKET handed to the Prosecutor and the Court will have to decide.
On another level, can we connect the attacks affecting the FAMAs and foreign forces to the current acceleration of the implementation of the peace agreement, the implementation of the interim authorities and the coming municipal election, including?
I do the same analysis as you. Some said they didn't want the implementation of the agreement. Some are self-employed in this situation. It is clear that they will do everything so that peace and quiet don't come back.
This is why the international community and the Government of Mali are aware that as long as the country is not stable, we can't bring stability in the Sahel. The shots we take, our neighbors also take them. We also have a next encounter with the different security Ministers. We will invite them to exchange information. But it should push it further as the meeting which had taken place after the attack of Grand-Bassam in Côte d'Ivoire.
Precisely how the security cooperation between countries of the subregion? It is often said that Mali is the "soft underbelly". What's today ' hui Mali changed its position?
The concept of soft underbelly will only hire people who say this. What I know is that very few countries can resist in the face of what we cashed. What happened to us, we don't want anyone.
The other powers of the world who have come to thwart not bad shots but they still take. If you engage in a macabre tally of terrorist acts, you will see that we are not in the first position. However, he has never had perfect anywhere security. In the terrorist attacks, people come to die, and it's hard to fight someone who comes to die. We are working on it. Security specialists never say that all the arrangements are made so that nothing happens, but we are rather all arrangements to ensure that all goes well.
Iyad Ag Ghaly, the instigator of attacks against our forces and partners, still running. It would have been seen several times in the North and more recently, the imam Dicko sent him a letter by an emissary. So there are opportunities to find him?
You said that we would have seen Iyad Ag Ghaly in the North, an area where Malian forces and administration are not present. It would be complicated to conduct certain types of operation.
Maybe not with the Malian forces but with the MALI with which police work, since our forces cannot go on area at the moment?
Iyad was put on a red list, not only by the United States, but by other powers that are more present on the ground as we. We have a relationship, we do what it takes…
The Africa-France Summit, which comes in a few weeks. Bamako will be ready in terms of security?
For the Summit, we work with the France. It is a co-organization. The french Ambassador in charge of the Summit comes very regularly here to make the point. I think that if the France had the feeling that we could not hold it, she would put in place a plan B. And as so far no one has heard a plan B, it is the France considers that it is possible to hold this Summit in Bamako.
Therefore, be reassured?
Our concern is the population. Is she the one who suffers, she whose support is crucial. If she does not understand our action, it can only demotivate those who are here and who risk their lives. They are not aliens, they of Malians.
If the security forces are cited tomorrow as the most efficient, it will be the pride of the people of Mali. They are there for us, we need to encourage them, help us to redress the wrongs they may commit or imperfections, but saying that it is ultimately for ourselves. It's really this here my appeal, understanding and support.
JOURNAL OF MALI