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FACTBOX: History of state coups in Mali

On August 18, the fourth state coup in the country’s history broke out at an army base in Kati, outside the capital city of Bamako, leading to the arrest of the president, the prime minister and other high-ranking officials, including foreign and finance ministers and the parliament speaker

MOSCOW, August 19. /TASS/. A military coup took place in Mali on August 18 as mutinous servicemen detained President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse. This is the fourth state coup in the country’s history.

History (1960-2015)

The Republic of Mali was proclaimed on September 22, 1960. Its first president was Modibo Keita, the secretary general of the Sudanese Union-African Democratic Rally (US-RDA).

A military coup in November 1968 brought to power the Military Committee for National Liberation (CMLN), led by Moussa Traore. In March 1979, a new political party - the Democratic Union of the Malian People (UDPM) - was established and later became the only one in the country. Presidential and parliamentary elections were held in June 1979. Traore, who chaired UDPM, was elected president. After that, CMLN was disbanded and the transition to a civilian government began.

Another state coup took place in the country on March 25, 1991, overthrowing Traore’s authoritarian rule and bringing to power the Transitional Committee for the Salvation of the People (CTSP) led by Amadou Toumani Toure. The committee comprised both military delegates and civilian opposition members.

A new constitution was adopted during a referendum in 1992, establishing a multi-party system in the country. Presidential and parliamentary elections took place in March and April 1992. The majority of seats in the parliament were won by the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (Alliance pour la Democratie au Mali, ADEMA), while its leader Alpha Oumar Konare was elected president and re-elected for the second term in 1997.

In 2002, the presidential elections were won by General Amadou Toumani Toure, who headed the country during the transition period. He was re-elected to the post in 2007.

In 2012, the political situation in Mali was destabilized by the insurgency of the Tuareg separatists in the north of the country, who were supported by radical Islamist groups. As a result of another coup, President Toure was ousted on March 22, 2012. Facing pressure from the international community, coup leader Amadou Haya Sanogo signed an agreement to transfer the power to Dioncounda Traore. Traore was sworn in as an interim president and formed a transitional government.

By April 2012, almost the entire northern section of Mali was under the control of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). However, by July, the Tuareg separatists were pushed out by their former allies, Islamic radicals who declared the creation of a state governed by the Sharia law. In January 2013, they started to march toward the capital of Bamako, threatening the total overthrow of the republican system of government in Mali. In response to a call by interim president Traore, military forces from African countries and France intervened to help the Malian army. As a result of joint military operations, the government of Mali regained control over the northern territories by March.

On August 11, 2013, a presidential election was held in the country and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected as president. As a result of the government’s negotiations with Tuareg leaders, agreements were signed on May 15 and June 20, 2015. They envisaged a political reform on the condition that Mali’s territorial integrity and the republican system of government would be preserved.

Situation in 2015-2019

However, Islamist groups that were left aside the negotiations managed to consolidate their forces and increase their influence in rural areas of central Mali. The most prominent of them were the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. Both are affiliated with the Islamic State terrorist organization, outlawed in Russia. Besides, groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda (outlawed in Russia) have become active along the country’s border with Burkina Faso. The situation is made worse by ethnic tensions in Central Mali, where Fulani herdsmen on one side and Dogon and Bambara farmers on the other are competing for land and pastures.

In 2019, the country was gripped by a wave of rallies, demanding to enhance security in central regions, hit by ethnic clashes. Protestors also demanded the government’s resignation. On April 18, the government of Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga resigned.

In May, following an agreement reached by new Prime Minister Boubou Cisse with 15 political groups, a new government was formed with the participation of the opposition. However, Cisse’s government failed to bring stability to the country.

Events of 2020

The protest movement in Mali gained momentum this spring. Protesters demanded that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resign. They also called for enhanced security measures as numerous terrorist groups intensified their attacks in the country.

The protests were led by prominent religious scholar Imam Mahmoud Dicko. The first rally that he organized in Bamako on June 5 gathered dozens of thousands of people. Later, two more massive protests were organized in the capital by Dicko’s June 5 Movement - Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP) on June 19 and July 10. Participants called for the president’s resignation, a national unity government and the dissolution of parliament. The June 10 rally turned violent, with activists setting fire to the parliament building, breaking into the office of the national TV and radio broadcaster and blocking roads and bridges. Clashes continued until late July 12, leaving 14 people dead and 154 injured.

The government and the opposition launched negotiations on July 20 and 23, mediated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). On July 27, the organization came up with a plan of stabilization in Mali, suggesting a national unity government with the participation of all leading political forces in the country.

On August 18, a mutiny broke out at an army base in Kati, outside the capital city of Bamako. The insurgency was led by Colonel Sadio Camara, former director of a military school at the Kati military base. Apart from the president and the prime minister, Camara’s forces arrested a number of ministers, including foreign and finance ministers and the parliament speaker. The Malian General Staff is also reportedly controlled by the insurgents, with a number of senior officers being arrested. All governmental bodies and banks in Bamako are closed.