New Apostolic Nuncio to Mali Says Country to Realize True Peace “only through dialogue”

Msgr. Mambé Jean-Sylvain Emien, the new Apostolic Nuncio to the West African nation of Mali. Credit: Vatican Media

The West African nation of Mali can “achieve true peace” and development only if the leadership and citizens embrace dialogue, the newly appointed Apostolic Nuncio to the country has said.

“It is only through dialogue that Mali can achieve true peace and development,” Msgr. Mambé Jean-Sylvain Emien, has been quoted as saying in an interview with Vatican News reported Thursday, February 10.

The native of Ivory Coast who was appointed to represent the Holy Father in Mali on February 2 adds, “The Vatican has always advocated dialogue for the resolution of all crises. And I, as the Pope's representative to these people, will share with them the Holy Father's proposals that could contribute to the search for peace in Mali.”

Mali, a country with a population of 19.66 million people, has reportedly experienced a surge in violence involving both civilians and the military since 2012. Since then, abductions have become more persistent in the West African nation, with militants seeking either to get ransoms or to exert political pressure.

The attacks orchestrated by independent militia and jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State, as well as inter-communal violence, have left thousands of Malians dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. 


The violence has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The West African nation is currently under the leadership of Colonel Assimi Goita who led two coups in a span of nine months, first ousting the country’s elected President in August 2020, and on 24 May 2021, the interim leaders who were to head the country’s transitional government.

Following the May 24 coup, Mali’s constitutional court named Colonel Goita the transitional President, until the West African nation holds elections to replace the country’s elected President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was ousted in August 2020.

The move attracted criticism and condemnation, with the Catholic Church leaders in the country terming the May 24 events “seizure of power outside the legal process.”

In their collective statement dated 25 May 2021, members of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) said they were following “with great concern and sadness the events that took place in the country following the establishment of a new government on 24 May 2021, after the resignation of the interim President and Prime Minister.”

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“The Bishops in Mali, conscious of the need for a strong executive and a reconciled and reinforced army strongly condemn the seizure of power outside the legal process,” Catholic Bishops in Mali said in their message that was shared with ACI Africa.

On January 9, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced it would close borders with Mali and impose economic sanctions following the government’s attempt to extend the transition period by five years, despite a commitment to holding elections in February this year, BBC News reported.

Amid sanctions by ECOWAS, Catholic Bishops in Mali appealed for dialogue to find solutions acceptable to all citizens of the West African nation.

“Mali is living a critical moment of its existence, but with faith in God and trusting in the Malian men and women, as well as in the people and institutions that are helping us, we reaffirm our faith in the virtue of dialogue among brothers,” CEM members said in their statement shared with ACI Africa January 27.

In the Vatican News interview with Msgr. Emien reported February 10, the Apostolic Nuncio to Mali urges Malians to unite and pursue dialogue.


He invites the international community “to take into account the deep aspirations of the Malian people because we cannot help Mali without the Malians.”

The new representative of the Holy Father in Mali expresses his appreciation to the Vatican leadership saying, “I thank God for the trust that the Pope and my superiors have placed in me for this service.”

“My appointment as Apostolic Nuncio to Mali is a sign of the attention and closeness of Pope Francis to the bishops, Christians, and all the Malian people who for years have suffered terrorist attacks,” Msgr. Emien adds.

Pope Francis, he says, “wants to be close to the Malians and support them in their martyrdom, because Mali is a people wounded by all these terrorist attacks.”

The presence of an Apostolic Nuncio in Mali, the Ivorian diplomat says, “is an asset for strengthening inter-religious dialogue in a country that is 94% Muslim.”

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“This does not prevent a good cohabitation between Muslims, Christians and animists,” Msgr. Emien says in the interview with Vatican News.

He explains in reference to the social situation of Mali, “In the same family, there are Muslims, Catholics and animists. All live together in perfect harmony. Religious fundamentalism is the work of a minority. There are even imams who have one of their children as a Priest. Inter-religious dialogue is a daily occurrence in Malian families.”

“I have faith in a reconciled Mali, a Mali of peace where all will meet as brothers and sisters and hand in hand, they will move towards great progress,” Msgr. Emien says, and continues, “The Church in Mali has a very important role to play in this sense, as a model of unity and brotherhood.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.