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Thread started 08/19/20 6:44am

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current events in Mali (Africa)


Things happening here can have a ripple affect across Western Africa.

Mali is now under military control

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5. Mali

The President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, announced his resignation after he and the country's Prime Minister were reportedly arrested in a suspected coup. The upheaval, reportedly led by mutinous military leaders, follows months of anti-government mass protests and a rising insurgency from Islamist militants. Now, the West African nation is likely to face even more instability. Keita announced he has no choice but to step down, and the country's national assembly and government would now be dissolved. The military leaders of the coup promised the public a reasonable political transition and new elections. But for the near future, they have closed all land and sea borders and instituted a nationwide curfew.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/...ocid=ientp

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Destination Mali, a virtual guide to the region of the former Mali Empire. Mali is a landlocked country in interior of Western Africa, large parts in the north reach deep into the center of the Sahara, more than half of the country lies in the extremely hot, dust-laden desert, while its central parts are in the Sahel zone, the transition zone between the desert and the savanna, the grassy plain in the south.

Mali is bordered by Algeria in north, by Niger in east, by Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire in south, by Guinea in south-west, and by Senegal and Mauritania in west.

With an area of 1,241,238 km² the country is 3.5 times the size of Germany, or slightly less than twice the size of the U.S. state of Texas. Located in the central part of the country is its highest point, Mount Hombori Tondo, with 1,155 m. Mali's climate ranges from subtropical in south to arid, hot and dry in north.

The majority of its population of 16.3 million live in the country's southern region. Capital and largest city is Bamako. Spoken languages are French and Bambara (Bamanankan), a Mande language. Mali is a predominant Islamic country, about 90% of its population are Muslims.

https://www.nationsonline...d/mali.htm

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Reply #1 posted 08/19/20 8:55am

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Mali president resigns after being arrested by troopsJ.
Edward Moreno 10 hrs ago

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Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced his resignation in an aired address on national broadcaster ORTM after being arrested by troops in an apparent military coup earlier Tuesday.

http://img-s-msn-com.akam...&y=243

The statement in the state-run broadcaster came after midnight local time, and Keita said he had few choices to avoid any bloodshed.

Keita and his Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were arrested along with other government officials earlier in the day, according to the head of the African Union.

A spokesperson for African Union Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement that Mahamat "strongly condemns" the arrests of the two leaders and other members of the Malian government and "calls for their immediate release."

The European Union also condemned the coup, calling for "dialogue" to strengthen human rights and avoid destabilizing the region in Western Africa.

Keita took office as Mali's president in 2013 after having served as prime minister from 1994-2000. He had faced growing discontent since May when the country's Supreme Court overturned results from disputed parliamentary elections, paving the way for his party to occupy a majority of the vacant seats.

Protesters expressed frustration with the current government's inability to tamp down an Islamist insurgency in the West African country.

On Tuesday videos surfaced of troops driving through the capital city of Bamako, shooting guns in the air surrounded by cheering crowds.

Video: Mali anti-government protesters return to the streets (AFP)

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Reply #2 posted 08/20/20 10:48am

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Mali army Col. Assimi Goita says he's in charge of junta
By BABA AHMED and KRISTA LARSON, Associated Press 4 hrs ago

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A colonel in Mali's army says he's now in charge of the West African country, declaring himself chairman of the junta that forced the democratically elected but unpopular president to resign.


http://img-s-msn-com.akam...&y=653
© Provided by Associated Press Seen on national broadcaster ORTM TV, Col. Assimi Goita, one of the soldiers identifying themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, sits with others as they announce they have assumed control of the country Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020 in Bamako, Mali.


Col. Assimi Goita, one of the five military officers who announced this week's coup on the state broadcaster ORTM, says he's now in charge of the West African country, declaring himself chairman of the junta that forced the democratically elected but unpopular president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign. (ORTM TV via AP)Col. Assimi Goita, one of the five military officers who announced this week's coup on the state broadcaster ORTM, declared himself chairman of the junta now in power.

"By making this intervention (the coup), we have put Mali first," Goita said in a broadcast that showed him meeting with the top officials of government ministries and urging them to resume work Thursday.

"Mali is in a sociopolitical and security crisis," he said. "There is no more room for mistakes."

Across Africa and around the world, leaders have strongly condemned this week's coup, calling for an immediate return to civilian rule and the release of ex-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his prime minister, Boubou Cisse.

The two leaders were detained by mutinous soldiers on Tuesday who surrounded the president's private residence in Bamako and fired shots into the air. Under duress, Keita later announced his resignation on state television, saying he did not want any blood to be shed to keep him in power.

Analysts have said there were few signs that political opposition leaders were aware of the coup plot in advance, though they now stand to benefit through an opportunity to serve in the transitional government promised by the junta.


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Reply #3 posted 08/25/20 8:56am

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Mali Coup Talks Hit Impasse Over Transition to Civilian Rule

Katarina Hoije 1 hr ago

© Photographer: ANNIE RISEMBERG/AFP President of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People) Assimi Goita (3rd-L) attends a meeting between Malian military leaders and an ECOWAS delegation headed by former Nigerian president on August 22, 2020, in an aim to restore order after the military coup in Bamako.

West African leaders have made scant headway in their efforts to ensure Mali swiftly reverts to civilian rule after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s ouster by a military junta.

Talks between the junta’s leaders and envoys from the Economic Community of West African States ended Monday without resolving when the military will arrange elections or release Keita, who’s been in captivity since his arrest on Aug. 18. Regional heads of state are expected to meet Wednesday to chart a way forward.

“Our advice is that the transition doesn’t drag on,” Nigerien Foreign Minister Kalla Ankourao told Radio France Internationale late Monday. “We want a civilian at the helm of a transitional authority or at least a retired army officer. They proposed two years this morning. We think this is too long.”

Keita, 75, dissolved his government and resigned under pressure from soldiers who detained him hours after staging a mutiny at an army barracks on the outskirts of Bamako, the capital. Further instability in Mali could be exploited by Islamist insurgents in the north who’ve staged increasingly violent attacks in the region, despite the presence of a 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force.

The junta wants political parties, civil society, religious groups and the army to decide on the timeframe and structure of the transition, spokesman Ismael Wague told reporters on Monday.

“We haven’t decided anything for now,” Wague said, denying reports that the junta plans to head the transition. “It is the Malians together who will decide.”

Ecowas is unlikely to agree to the junta’s demand that a transitional authority headed by a military officer rule Mali for a period of up to half a presidential mandate, said Jose Luengo-Cabrera, Sahel researcher for the International Crisis Group.

“The turn of events in Mali is a cautionary tale for the region,” he said in a written response to questions. “In a region that has been in turmoil for years, spillover of conflict often affects formal politics. “The military junta should concede to a more reasonable timeline for talks.”

Leaders in neighboring Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger have been unable to tackle their security, political and economic woes amid growing popular discontent.

Ecowas, which has failed in previous attempts to mediate an end to Mali’s political crisis, has suspended the nation from all its decision-making structures. It’s also urged its other 14 member nations, which include Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal, to halt financial flows with Mali and shut shared land and air borders.

If the junta continues to insist on a two-year transition and fails to strike a compromise with Ecowas in the coming days, it risks losing popular support as economic sanctions start to bite, said Kalilou Sidibe, a political science and law professor at the University of Bamako.

“The junta might have the people’s support at the moment, but its position remains fragile,” he said by phone. “The situation could destabilize. Another group or military faction could threaten the junta as we saw in 2012,” when soldiers threatened a counter-coup against army officers who had overthrown President Amadou Toumani Toure, Sidibe said.

Members of the M5-RFP opposition coalition that organized mass protests calling for Keita’s resignation are considering backing a transition period until 2023, when Keita’s term was due to end.

“Holding rushed elections before electoral and constitutional reforms, risks deepening the political crisis,” Sy Kadiatou Sow, a former foreign minister and member of the coalition, said by phone from Bamako.

(Updates with analyst comment starting in third paragraph after photograph. An earlier version of this story corrected the third-from-last paragrah to show that 2012 counter-coup was unsuccessful.)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

a group of people sitting at a table in a room: President of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People) Assimi Goita (3rd-L) attends a meeting between Malian military leaders and an ECOWAS delegation headed by former Nigerian president on August 22, 2020, in an aim to restore order after the military coup in Bamako.

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Reply #4 posted 08/31/20 4:50pm

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https://www.msn.com/en-us...d=msedgntp

What does the coup mean for Mali's spiralling security crisis?

Joseph Stepansky 2 hrs ago
Al Jazeera logoWhat does the coup mean for Mali's spiralling security crisis?

What began with reports of gunshots at an army barracks just outside Bamako in the morning of August 18 ended hours later with a group of mutinous soldiers arresting and forcing the resignation of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Mali's embattled president.

a person sitting on a bed: Mali's coup has been seen as predominantly a response to social unrest, fuelled by political and economic woes [File: Mamadou Keita/Reuters]© [File: Mamadou Keita/Reuters] Mali's coup has been seen as predominantly a response to social unrest, fuelled by political and economic woes [File: Mamadou Keita/Reuters]

The coup leaders swiftly declared their intervention was meant to prevent the country from plunging into chaos, which they blamed on the government's failure to tackle a series of overlapping crises.

In the weeks leading up to the coup, tens of thousands of opposition supporters had taken to the streets to protest against a disputed parliamentary election, persistent economic woes and a spiralling security crisis that erupted in 2012, when a previous coup allowed northern Tuareg separatists, allied with an al-Qaeda offshoot, to take advantage of the political instability and briefly seize large swaths of land in the north.

That loss of territory precipitated the currently devolving situation, with armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda capitalising on intercommunal tensions as they jockey for control of Mali's semi-arid centre.

But along with the hope of the social and political reforms demanded during the mass anti-Keita protests, the reality of the continuing conflicts in the country's vast north and central regions remains. And while the coup has cast into uncertainty Mali's political future, it has also raised fears the effects of the upheaval could further spill beyond the country's borders and threaten the wider region.

The military officers now in charge, calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), have promised to include the opposition and civil society in a transition back to civilian rule, which they have pledged will happen within a "reasonable" timeframe.

But two weeks since the coup, little has been made clear about who will lead the transition and how long it will last.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc has been negotiating the details of the transfer of power, but the two parties remain at odds - ECOWAS has called for it to happen within a year, and has stemmed money flows to the country to pressure the military's hand.

France, which has for years been militarily the most active international power in its former colony, has also called for a truncated timeline, with Defence Minister Florence Parly saying the transition should take place within "a matter of months".

"If this does not happen, the risk is that all this benefits terrorists first and foremost," she told Europe-1 radio on Sunday. "Terrorists feed on the weakness of states."

2012 coup

Despite the increased presence of international forces - including the French-led Operation Barkhane and the United Nations peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) - violence has continued to increase in Mali in recent years.

Attacks have grown fivefold since 2016, while the vast majority of the almost 2,000 documented fatalities related to the conflict in the country this year took place in the central Mopti region, according to the International Crisis Group. Meanwhile, about 1.7 million people have been displaced by the violence, according to the UN.

The first seven months of this year have proven deadlier than any year since Mali was thrown into turmoil in 2012.

Despite early comparisons, however, armed groups in Mali are not likely to benefit as "significantly" as they did from the political instability eight years ago, said Flore Berger, a Sahel research analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"It's not gonna be like 2012 where they can actually take vast parts of the country," she said. "First of all, they're already there. They don't control the entire areas where they attack, but they're still there, they have quite a big presence," added Berger.

"They also have changed their tactics. They're not aiming at controlling major town centres. Now they aim at attacking and going south towards coastal West Africa," she said.

Still, armed groups may increase attacks in the coming weeks in response to the upheaval, said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

"My expectation is that they would look to continue to do attacks in the early period to demonstrate that this military government is weak," he added. "And to persuade, or to undermine any local Malians' views that maybe there's a new dispensation on the horizon."

Another difference from 2012 is that that coup was more of "a mutiny of the low-ranking officers and soldiers" motivated by "troops complaining about their military conditions" in operations against armed groups in the north, said Virginie Baudais, a senior Sahel researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

"There was not a really high-ranking officer implicated in the coup in 2012. And now it's a high ranking officer and the coup appears to be well organised," she said, referring to Assimi Goita, a colonel in the Malian special forces who is leading the CNSP.

"It was much more complicated to negotiate with the junta in 2012 than this one," she said.

More than two weeks after the 2012 coup, the then-military rulers folded to international pressure amid crippling ECOWAS sanctions, international travel bans, aid withholdings, and the declaration of an autonomous state by northern separatists who had seized key northern cities.

The military ceded power to a transitional authority led by the speaker of parliament, ushered in a 2013 election that was won by Keita, who got re-elected five years later.

'Thinly stretched'

This time, the international community has walked a careful line in condemning the unconstitutional transfer of power, which several regional leaders fear may set an example for their countries, while refraining from doing anything that could jeopardise the coordination that they see as essential to slowing the spreading of violence in the region.

CNSP leaders have also said they will continue to cooperate with the international forces currently based in the country in an array of missions aimed at routing out armed groups, while continuing a languishing 2015 peace agreement reached with rebel groups in the country's north.

To date, France and other European powers, as well as MINUSMA, have said they will continue their operations during the transitional period, while the United States and the European Union have temporarily paused training activities in the wake of the coup.

"I would frame all of this as being really fluid," said CSIS's Devermont, "in terms of the way these international partners are legally able to work with the military government and operate in Mali, and what the military government's ultimate partnership and position towards these actors will be."

Many regional and international leaders, while perhaps not publicly, had viewed the 75-year-old Keita as a flawed intermediary, analysts said.

Devermont said Mali's military during Keita's rule has been historically inept at "consolidating control" and "backfilling" security gains made by international forces operating in the country.

However, a transition in power could tax the already overstretched Malian forces across the country.

"If it becomes a military-led government, we would have to expect they would start pulling more military off the battlefield and into Bamako. So there could be some direct disruption to the limited capacity that the military already has," Devermont said.

Jose Luengo Cabrera, a Sahel researcher at the International Crisis Group, said it remains "unclear whether the junta will respond more effectively to the broiling rural insurgency in central Mali, where military outposts and gendarmeries continue to be primary targets of jihadi attacks - at a time when security forces are evidently thinly stretched".

He added that there have been increasing reports leading up to the coup highlighting "levels of demoralisation, barriers to promotion within military hierarchy, and, worst, growing disenchantment towards insufficient resources" within the military ranks.

It also remains unclear to what degree the Malian military will be motivated to enact needed reforms, including reckoning with abuses committed by security forces that have increased the enmity between the government and some communities, "especially now that the military is poised to become a principal political actor and likely to be resistant to certain changes requiring it to concede powers and be willing to be more accountable to the civilian justice system", Jose said.

The UN's human rights agency, as of June, had documented 230 "extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions" attributed to Mali's security forces in 2020, including some that allegedly occurred under the control of the G5 Sahel Joint Force - a French-backed multinational military force in the Sahel composed of troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The agency has also documented "instances of enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and the destruction of several properties".

Security forces have also been accused of using excessive force during the protests that preceded the coup, with sources describing to Human Rights Watch at least 14 deaths of protesters and bystanders "allegedly as a result of gunfire by the security forces in Bamako on July 10 and 11".

CNSP leaders arrive at the transitional talks with ECOWAS [File: John Kalapo/Getty Images]

With more questions than answers, many analysts agree that any transition will need to holistically contend the country's myriad issues, with the primary focus on the underlying problems that plague citizens across its far-flung reaches.

"The root causes of the security situation are not security in itself, but they are mostly the economic situation," said Gregory Chauzal, a senior researcher and director of the SIPRI's Sahel West Africa programme.

"If you want to improve the situation in the long run, to have sustainable peace ... you need to address what makes this conflict happen in first place," he said, citing Mali's "political and economic factors".

Added SIPRI's Baudais: "With MINUSMA, Barkhane, the G5 Sahel, Takuba, and every military intervention, the situation is still deteriorating since 2012. So we can see that the military solution is not the most effective."

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