Military takeover in Mali
The military in Mali arrested the country’s President and Prime minister Tuesday (Boubou Cisse Tuesda) in a coup staged after weeks of destabilising protests over a disputed election, government corruption and a violent Islamist insurgency that has lasted for eight years.
The streets of Bamako, the capital, exploded with both jubilation and gunfire after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and his prime minister, Boubou Cissé, were detained along with other government officials. Around midnight, the president announced on state TV that he was resigning.
- France has remained deeply involved in the affairs of Mali, its former colony, decades after the country gained independence.
- For the French forces battling Islamists in the region, Mali is part of what some call France’s “Forever War” in the Sahel, the far-stretching land beneath the Sahara.
- The United States, too, has military advisers in Mali, and U.S. officials have a keen interest in a stable Malian government whose interests align with the West because instability in the region allows violent extremists to prey on populations and advance their objectives, and displaces millions of civilians.
- After a previous military coup in 2012, Islamist rebels, some with ties to al Qaeda, took advantage of the disarray to seize control of large areas of the country’s north, including the ancient city of Timbuktu.
- Under their brutal rule, Malians in those areas under jihadist control were forced to follow a strict religious code or risk severe punishment. Women were forced into marriage, and historical sites were demolished.
- The rebels lost control of their territories after French forces intervened to help the Malian military drive them out. But armed groups continue to terrorise civilians in the countryside, and the violence has metastasised across borders into the neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso and Niger.
- More than 10,000 West Africans have died, more than 1 million have fled their homes and military forces from West Africa and France have suffered many losses.
History of Mali
- In the years following its independence from France in 1960, Mali was viewed as having achieved a good track record in democratic government.
- But Mali, once cited as a democratic role model in the region, has lurched from one crisis to another since the 2012 coup that overthrew President Amadou Touré a month before elections were to be held.
- The factors behind that coup, in part a consequence of the Arab Spring, underscore Mali’s position connecting North Africa with the rest of the continent. After the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya in 2011, hundreds of heavily armed Malian rebels who had fought for the Libyan leader returned home and attacked northern towns, creating the chaos that preceded the military takeover.