from political crisis to military coup

While Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced his resignation and the dissolution of the National Assembly night through Tuesday to Wednesday following his arrest of mutant soldiers, this military coup marks a new stage in the deep political crisis that is shaking the country. Back to months of instability in Mali, in the grip of growing insecurity.

Mali is facing a military coup. Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced his resignation on Tuesday, August 18, following his arrest by fragile soldiers. While the military that took power promises general elections, this turnaround is the culmination of months of political instability since the legislative elections in March 2020. A crisis has contributed to the insecurity that has reigned in the country since 2012.

The current former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) has been competing on the streets for several months and has announced his resignation, as has his government and the dissolution of the National Assembly. during a speech delivered the night of Tuesday, August 18 to Wednesday, August 19.

RFI correspondent in Bamako, Serge Daniel, reported a fairly calm situation on the streets of the Malian capital, but “with a reinforced safety device”. The organizers of the military coup, “senior officers”, quickly announced that they wanted to set up a transitional civilian government to hold new elections.

“If the mutiny could not be foreseen, we could see that the population was tired of the president,” explains the international columnist in France 24 Armelle Charrier. “We had a government that is falling apart: IBK did not take Mali by the hand as it should, even though it is one of the largest states in Africa, but also one of the worst,” she sums up.

Mali: “the population around the IBK clan was tired”

Since the end of March 2020, a motley coalition of religious, political and civil society leaders, the Mouvement du 5 Juin-Rassemblement des Forces patriotiques du Mali (M5-RFP) demanded the resignation of President Keïta, was elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2018 for five years. Despite many proposals for mediation, especially from economic cooperation in West African states (ECOWAS), the opposition has repeatedly refused to consult.

  • In late March: Legislators disputed after the kidnapping of the opposition leader

On March 26, 2020, opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé was abducted in the middle of the legislative campaign. Suspected jihadists are accused of this unprecedented kidnapping for a personality of this stature. Still in captivity in August, “Soumaïla Cissé” is doing well “, IBK repeated on several occasions.

Three days later, on the 29th, the first round of this vote, maintained despite the emergence of coronavirus. The second round was held on April 19, but the vote was marked by violence: kidnapping of elections, looting of polling stations and the explosion of a mine, among other things, caused nine casualties.

The day after the second round, the Constitutional Court reversed about thirty results, including ten in favor of President IBK’s party. “This is the trigger for anger, according to French 24 Africa specialist Nicolas Germain. But you have a deeper anger, where the opposition condemns a corrupt regime, as well as jihadist violence in the north and center of the country and inter-municipal violence.”

From the beginning of May, many dissatisfied Malians hit the sidewalk.

Mali: the origin of anger

  • At the end of May: alliance against IBK

In the face of the scolding, the influential conservative imam Mahmoud Dicko, opposition parties and a civil society movement form an unprecedented alliance on May 30 that demands demonstrations to demand the president’s resignation. They condemn the powerlessness of power in the face of uncertainty, the economic downturn and the decision of the Constitutional Court to reverse the results.

Imam Dicko, opposition leader in Mali, in FRANCE24’s Journal de d’Afrique

>> To read also: Demonstrations in Mali: who is Mahmoud Dicko, the rigorous imam who shakes power?

On June 5, the Malians took to the streets of thousands against the president.

Despite the instability, the head of state renewed Prime Minister Boubou Cissé in mid-June, accusing him of forming the new government. IBK then opens the door to a government of national unity. Despite these promises, thousands of Bamakois are again demanding the resignation of the president on June 19.

While the country is going through a serious economic crisis, pictures of President and Deputy Karim Keitta’s son are causing a scandal on social networks in early July. “We see her there on a luxury yacht with barely dressed women, which has increased the anger from the protesters,” summarizes Nicolas Germain.

On July 7 and 8, the president indicates that he could nominate legislative candidates for the Senate who were first declared winners and then defeated by the Constitutional Court. The head of state then opens the way for a review of the Constitutional Court’s decision on legislative elections.

The leader of the protest rejects the president’s actions as a whole and continues the protest.

  • Mid-July: weekend of deadly demonstrations

On July 10, a demonstration called on by the movement on June 5, under the sign of “civil disobedience”, degenerated into attacks on parliament and on national television. Three days of civil unrest followed, the most serious in Bamako since 2012.

The opposition causes a death toll of 23 and more than 150 injured. Prime Minister Boubou Cissé talks about 11 dead, while the UN presents the number of protesters killed.

In an attempt to calm the climate, on July 11, IBK announced the “de facto dissolution” of the Constitutional Court.

  • Late July-early August: failed mediation and exacerbation of the crisis

On July 18, the protest rejects a compromise proposed through the mediation of ECOWAS, led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. This proposal provided for the head of state to remain in power.

On July 21, the movement announces gun violence in its slogan of civil disobedience so that the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha takes place in peace.

On the 27th, the leaders of the ECOWAS Malians call for “the Holy Union”. The organization threatens with sanctions those who oppose its plan to end the crisis, which still provides President Keita with maintenance in power, but which advocates a unity government and partial legislative elections.

But two days later, the plan was hit by a triple setback: the opposition again demanded the resignation of the president and rejected the hand extended by the prime minister. Thereafter, about thirty deputies, whose election is questioned, for their part refuse to resign as requested by the West African mediation.

On August 12, thousands of people gather again in Bamako and demand the president’s resignation.

In Mali, a new meeting to demand the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta

The next day, the protest rejects a proposal by Goodluck Jonathan for a meeting with President Keïta and demands the release of prisoners.


  • August 17: Military coup

On August 17, the opposition announced new demonstrations during the week demanding the resignation of the president and culminated in the occupation of a symbolic place in the heart of Bamako.

On the night of 18-19, a mutiny of soldiers turns into a coup. The soldiers who took power are forcing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to resign. In a speech broadcast by the public television program ORTM, the spokesman for the military, Colonel-Major Ismaël Wagué, vice-president of the air force, assured that he did not want to retain power. The soldiers promise to organize general elections “within a reasonable time frame” to “allow Mali to equip itself with strong institutions”.

“Unlike 2012,” during the previous Malian coup, “where non-commissioned officers staged a coup,” this time, “when we see the first photo of the minors, these are senior officers,” Serge Daniel explains. “They are friendly eyes to the international community at the security level, these are people who know the same way that they walk on eggshells,” the correspondent to RFI decrypts.

Mali: “Unlike in 2012, it was senior officers who carried out the coup”

ECOWAS sent a strong message: the organization announced the closure of regional borders with Mali following the arrest of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. In a press release, she said she had also suspended all economic exchanges between its 15 members and Mali and excluded the latter from the Community decision – making bodies.

With AFP