Article by William G Moseley, from the Al-Jazeera website:
What Mali needs in order to move forward are at least three measures. First, the twin towns of Mopti-Severe in central Mopti are home to over a 100,000 people, including a large number of internally displaced refugees, who deserve protection from potential rebel reprisals (and the same would go for any other major cities, such as Gao, liberated in the coming days). Armed UN peacekeepers should be dispatched to the region immediately to perform this role. […]
Second, coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo really must step aside. Not only did he topple a democratically elected leader (which was wrong irrespective of corruption concerns at the time), his presence as the real power behind the sham interim government necessarily limits broad international support for external assistance in this difficult time. Related to Sanogo’s departure must be a clear plan for creating a legitimate interim government in Bamako.
Third, an unambiguous plan for a peace process in the North must be developed which includes armed UN peace keepers across the major urban centres of the provinces of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal and a referendum on the future status of this region. While the rebels would almost certainly lose such an election if it were well-monitored, the process itself would be important for moving forward on a path to peace and reconciliation.
The real question is, who is ready and willing to take the risks to implement these measures?
The African Union has been remarkably quiet since the beginning of the crisis, and I would be surprised if the organisation takes (necessary) concrete steps to get involved in the political and military transition in Mali.
France, on the other hand, will have to deal with increased risks if it goes beyond the mission of fighting rebel troops in Northern Mali. Active involvement in Mali internal politic and military issues looks like a big gamble, considering the French stakes in the country.