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Cablegate: National Assembly Ratifies Terrorism Law But

VZCZCXRO9381
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHBP #0660/01 1980850
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160850Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9452
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 0464

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BAMAKO 000660

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PTER PHUM EAGR ECON EIND ELAB EINV
SOCI, KISL, ML
SUBJECT: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RATIFIES TERRORISM LAW BUT
POSTPONES VOTES ON COTTON PRIVATIZATION AND THE DEATH
PENALTY

REF: A. 07 BAMAKO 01336
B. BAMAKO 00574
C. BAMAKO 00263
D. BAMAKO 00589

1.(SBU) On July 5, the final day of the National Assembly's
first three-month session for 2008, National Assembly
Deputies ratified a law criminalizing acts of terrorism in
Mali. The vote for ratification was unanimous. In addition
to defining terrorism, the law prescribes punishment ranging
from various terms of imprisonment to death for committing or
financing terrorist acts. The terrorism legislation has been
pending before the Assembly since 2007. Its approval was
delayed in part due to sensitivities involved in passing a
terrorism law while the Malian government was in the process
of negotiating a settlement with the Tuareg bandit turned
rebel Ibrahim Bahanga. The Assembly tabled two other
controversial measures: a proposal by President Amadou
Toumani Toure to abolish the death penalty in Mali; and a law
finalizing the privatization of the Mali's cotton parastatal.
While the failure to bring the death penalty and cotton
privatization bills to a vote marked a significant defeat for
President Toure, it highlighted the National Assembly's
independence from Mali's executive branch. End Summary.

-------------------------
Mali's Anti-Terrorism Law
-------------------------

2.(U) On the last day of its three-month session the Malian
National Assembly unanimously voted to ratify an
anti-terrorism bill that has languished on the Assembly floor
for nearly a year. The text must now be signed by the
President of the National Assembly and then forwarded for the
approval of President Amadou Toumani Toure. The legislation,
which was approved by the Malian Government's Council of
Ministers and forwarded to the Assembly for debate in
September 2007, defines terrorism and outlines penalties for
committing or financing terrorist acts in Mali. Mali's
criminal code previously included no references to terrorism.
The new law defines terrorism as "the commission of a
violent act that causes or could cause death, injury or
material harm with the intention of intimidating the
population or forcing a government to do or abstain from
doing something." Potential acts of terrorism include
hijacking or compromising the security of an aircraft, boat
or vehicle; hostage taking; the kidnapping or murder of
individuals; the use of explosives or dangerous substances to
inflict material or bodily harm; the acquisition and illegal
usage of nuclear material; the possession or transportation
of weapons of war; and the financing of terrorist acts.

3.(U) In forwarding the anti-terrorism legislation to the
National Assembly floor for ratification, the Assembly's
Committee for National Defense, Security and Civil Protection
urged Assembly Deputies take into account "the acts of
violence and terror that Mali has experienced over the
years." To jog fellow Deputies' memories, the Committee
referenced several recent incidents on Malian soil including
"German tourists taken hostage in Algeria", a hunting party
of Qatari nationals that was briefly taken hostage along the
Mali-Mauritania frontier north of Timbuktu in 2004 and the
laying of anti-personnel land mines in the northern town of
Tinzawaten by the Tuareg bandit/rebel Ibrahim Bahanga. It
was not clear whether the reference to "German tourists"
referred to the group of Germans captured by the Salafist
Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in 2003, the two
Austrian citizens currently held by AQIM, or both. The
National Defense Committee noted that while Mali's criminal
code currently deals "severely" with criminal acts,
"terrorist infractions are not specifically mentioned." The
new anti-terrorism legislation aims to close this loophole.

4.(SBU) By drawing attention to Bahanga's use of land mines
in Tinzawaten, the Assembly's National Defense Committee
zeroed in on the most sensitive aspect of the anti-terrorism
bill and the topic that has generated the most debate: the
law's impact on the status of Tuareg rebels and on going
negotiations between the Malian government and Tuareg rebel
leaders. Bahanga and the Tuareg rebel Alliance for Democracy
and Change (ADC) are currently holding between them
approximately 80 Malian soldiers as, depending on one's point
of view, either hostages or prisoners of war. This fact
would seemingly enable Mali to charge the soldiers' Tuareg
captors under the new anti-terrorism legislation. The Malian
government, however, continues to pursue a negotiated - as
opposed to a military or legal - solution to the Tuareg
crisis and there seems to be enough wiggle room within the


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