Crises in Mali Persist Through Government Change

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Daniel Hannan, Staff Writer

It has been more than two months since the initial military coup against Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Since then, the junta government has faced continued scrutiny from both African and international organizations such as the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Previously, the military leadership headed by colonel Assimi Goïta along with leaders of the June 5 Movement had chosen Bah Ndaw as the nation’s interim president. Bah Ndaw, a former Defence Minister under President Keita, plans to lead the transition back to an elected civilian government.

As Mali enters the interim period, the junta government will work with civilian opposition leaders to develop a plan to redirect government efforts towards the country’s crises, and to eventually return to civilian rule. Three experts on West African politics, Mohamed Salaha, Marie-Roger Bilao, and Manu Lekunze, discussed the developments in Mali. The interim period will last for 18 months, with the President, Prime Minister, Secretary, and Parliamentary positions being staffed with military officials, although opposition groups like the June 5 Movement are demanding more civilian presence in the government and that the interim period be shortened. Due to the infancy of most of these groups, founded during the previous months of protests, there are doubts of the efficacy of their leadership skills. Therefore, Malians and some outsiders see the military as the best option for the transition and addressing the nation’s crises.  Currently, the future of the government is unknown. There is the possibility of the military refusing to return power to the people. There is another possibility that the military government may wish to concede more power to civilian groups. Most of the Malian population is in support of the actions of the military and are upset at the international community’s refusal to cooperate with the government, seeing their sanctions and denunciations as unnecessary.

A major problem plaguing northeast Mali and the greater Sahel region during the 21st century is jihadist and separatist groups. Since 2011, armed forces from the international community (US, France, ECOWAS countries, the UN, etc.) have supported and trained with the Malian military in the region. Despite aid from foreign countries, the Malian military has been undersupplied, unsupported by the government, and powerless to the guerilla tactics used by the jihadist and separatist groups in the region. The lack of support from the government has led to the mutiny by the armed forces. While politicians under the Keita government promised peace in the region, signing agreements such as the 2015 Tuareg Peace Deal, they did not follow through with their promises. Many believe that the coup has empowered jihadist and separatist groups in their fight to take power from the Mali state. Casualties continue to rack up, with ten civilians and twelve soldiers killed in ambushes, on Tuesday, October 11, 2020. The junta government wishes to continue joint-force operations in the Sahel region, although many believe continued fighting will not bring an end to the threat of terrorism. Malian-based rebel groups source manpower from the northeast and center of the country. These sections in particular suffer from the economic and resource problems that the country faces, causing many neighborhoods to turn against the Malian government, no matter if it is a military junta or a civilian government. If the military listens to the demands of protesters and to the government’s opposition allies, it is believed that the crises that the country faces will be more easily subdued.  Furthermore, if the parts of the country that suffer the most are being helped, they will be less likely to support anti-government groups. 

 

Disclaimer: This article pulled upon coverage from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Aljazeera