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Mali - Movement of June 5

Large crowds on 19 June 2020 poured onto the streets of Mali's capital, Bamako, continuing the so-called "Movement of June 5" and renewing demands for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Those gathered were heeding the call of the country's newly resurgent opposition and were supported by Mahmoud Dicko, a prominent religious leader whose political star has been rising amid growing unrest over the devolving security situation in the northern and central regions of the country. Mali has spiralled into the violence - which involves an amorphous array of al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) affiliated groups, ethnic militias, and state, regional and international forces - since Tuareg separatists in the north briefly seceded from the southern-based government in 2012. Keita was elected the following year and won a second five-year term in 2018.

However, protesters' grievances extend beyond the conflict, with the anaemic pace of political reforms, a tanking economy and a widely shared perception of government corruption have also fed anti-Keita sentiment. The protests followed a similar rally on June 5 organised by a newly-formed coalition of opposition groups. prompting a coalition of religious leaders and civil society figures to call the protests the "Movement of June 5 - Rally of Patriotic Forces".

Police fired tear gas 11 July 2020 in Mali’s capital as scattered groups came out for a second straight day of anti-government protests 11 July 2020, defying the president's latest call for dialogue. The turnout was far smaller than the thousands who surged through the streets Friday 10 July 2020, briefly occupying the state television station and setting fires. Demonstrators attacked parliament and ransacked the national television station, only dispersing when the security forces opened fire. This level of violence is rare in Bamako, which has been spared much of the unrest that is routine across swathes of Mali.

Two more senior figures in Mali's opposition movement were arrested. Gendarmes arrested Choguel Maiga and Mountaga Tall, both leaders in the June 5 movement, The anti-government movement still wants the National Assembly dissolved. Its name, the June 5 Movement, or M5, reflects the day demonstrators first took to the streets en masse.

Led by influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, the movement was channelling deep-seated frustrations in the West African country. Friday's protest was the third such demonstration in less than two months, significantly escalating pressure on the president. As flaming roadblocks appeared around Bamako, the atmosphere was electric around the mosque where Dicko preaches, with his supporters seemingly afraid that the imam would be arrested. Security forces used live ammunition as clashes broke out, seriously wounding several men, according to associates of Dicko who published photos of the injuries.

Mali's embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced the dissolution of the constitutional court late 11 July 2020 in an attempt to calm the deadly civil unrest gripping the vulnerable African country, as more opposition leaders were arrested. The court has been at the centre of controversy in Mali after it overturned provisional results for a parliamentary poll earlier this year, triggering protests in several cities that on Friday descended into violence. Keita announced he would move to implement recommendations made last month by regional bloc ECOWAS, which included re-running some of March's contested legislative elections.

Mali's opposition on 02 July 2020 rejected concessions by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita aimed at resolving an escalating political crisis that has sparked deadly protests, saying it would be satisfied only if he resigns. A spokesman for M5-RFP, a coalition of political, religious and civil society leaders that launched protests over a month ago calling for Keita to resign, rejected his proposal. "We are not going to accept this nonsense," the spokesman, Nouhoum Togo, told Reuters news agency. "We demand his resignation plain and simple."

The protest movement brought together a motley coalition of opposition politicians, anti-corruption activists and religious figures — with Dicko acting as the undisputed crowd puller, whipping up hostility towards the government and then calling for restraint. Dubbed the “people’s imam” by his own supporters, he has played a prominent role in public life for more than a decade, chairing the country’s High Islamic Council from 2008 to 2019.

The imam first rose to prominence in 2009, leading a protest campaign that forced Mali’s then President Amadou Toumani Touré to water down a reform of family law that would have expanded women’s rights. More recently, he secured the withdrawal of a school textbook that touched on the subject of homosexuality. In between, the outspoken cleric stirred outrage by suggesting the 2015 terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako was divine punishment for Malians who “imported” homosexuality from the West. And while he welcomed France’s military intervention to repel jihadist insurgents in 2013, he has since likened the troops’ continued presence to colonial-era practices, stoking an anti-French sentiment that has angered Paris and embarrassed Mali’s president.

Mali’s fractured opposition gravitated around Dicko's movement, hoping to tap on its broad appeal. “Many opposition figures who would have stood no chance of seizing power are now relying on the imam and his followers for leverage, thereby handing him considerable political clout,” said analyst Aly Younkara in an interview with French daily Le Monde. With Keita’s many foes now loosely allied in the so-called June 5 Movement (M5), named after the first day of protests last month, Dicko has emerged as the unofficial spokesperson for the many grievances voiced by Malians exasperated by the continuing economic and security crisis. Dicko claimed the opposition had dropped its demand for the president to step down, but wanted further gestures from him.

West African leaders called 27 July 2020 for the swift creation of a unity government in Mali and a fresh vote after disputed elections but warned of sanctions against those opposing efforts to end the country's political crisis. In a statement issued after a video conference, heads of the 15-nation regional bloc ECOWAS stood by President Ibrahim Boubcar Keita but called for a unity government to be "established rapidly" and urged the opposition to join it. Ministers in charge of defence, justice, foreign affairs, national security and finance would be nominated before the unity government is created, it said. But – addressing demands by protesters that Keita quit –it also said the country's democratic constitution had to be respected and asked an ECOWAS commission "to consider sanctions against all those who act contrary to the normalisation process of the crisis." President Keita had been locked in a standoff for weeks with the opposition June 5 Movement, and the conflict spiralled into violent clashes earlier this month, leaving nearly a dozen people dead.

On the morning of 18 August 2020, a military mutiny took place at the Kati army base on the outskirts of the capital of Mali, the city of Bamako. According to the Malijet news portal, the insurgents were led by Colonel Sadio Camara, the former director of the military school at Kati’s base. Military rebels arrested Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Bubu Cisse. In addition, government ministers were arrested, including the heads of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, as well as the speaker of parliament. According to the Wakat Sera portal, the General Staff of the Mali Armed Forces was also under the control of the rebels, and a number of military leaders had been arrested. The senior mutineers were all respected army colonels. It was a coup led by combat-experienced, not personality-driven? officers.

UN Secretary General António Guterres called on the military in Mali to immediately release the country’s president and government members. The UN Security Council (SC) will hold an emergency meeting on the situation in this West African state on August 19 in a closed format.

The Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) decided 18 August 2020 to suspend Mali’s participation in its governing bodies in response to the country’s military insurgency. “Mali’s participation in the governing bodies of ECOWAS is immediately suspended in accordance with the Additional Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance until the restoration of constitutional order,” the document said. In addition, ECOWAS decided to “close all land and air borders, as well as to terminate all economic, trade and financial transactions of the ECOWAS member countries with Mali.”

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said on 18 August 2020 he was resigning and dissolving parliament and dismissing the government after being detained by the rebellious armed forces units. "I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power", he said on state television. The opposition accused Keita of failing to deal with corruption and restore security in the country amid escalating jihadist and inter-communal violence and has criticized controversial legislative elections held in late March, which were reportedly accompanied by kidnappings and death threats against observers and local officials.

Mali's opposition groups vowed to work with the military officers who deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita this week. They called on the people of Mali to rally behind the junta. "We will organize the biggest patriotic rally on Friday," Choguel Maiga, a leader of the opposition coalition June 5 Movement - Rally of Patriotic Forces, known as M5-RFP, told journalists. The nationwide gathering would "celebrate the Malian people's victory." In a statement, the coalition said that "it took note of the commitment" the junta has made to "open a civilian political transition" and pledged to work with it on "developing a roadmap.... We must all come together, military and civilian, to defend the republic and impose democracy and good governance and the secular nature of our state," the statement read.

During an emergency meeting, ECOWAS, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States, condemned the coup and announced it would send a delegation of heads of state to try to broker a peaceful way forward. ECOWAS also prepared its standby force to intervene in the event of a spread of violence.

The conflict in the country goes back in terms of decades of unrealized development opportunities and grievances people have in terms of basic access to services, a lack of rule of law and so on. The events following the Arab Spring, the coup in 2012 in Mali, the ensuing establishment of international terrorist groups in the country and in the subregion, and of course the miscontent as well in terms of the recent elections that are seen as not being 100% fair. On top of that, with the security situation with a number of massacres over the last 18 months - all of this together breeds dissatisfaction.

The junta that seized power in Mali wants a military-led transitional body to rule for three years and has agreed to release the ousted president, a source in a visiting West African delegation and the rebel soldiers said 23 August 2020. Last week's coup - Mali's second in eight years - followed months of protests calling for Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign as public discontent with the government grew over the collapsing economy and a brutal Islamist insurgency. "The junta has affirmed that it wants a three-year transition to review the foundations of the Malian state. This transition will be directed by a body led by a soldier, who will also be head of state," a source in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation told AFP after talks with the junta. "The government will also be predominantly composed of soldiers" under the proposal, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The West African countries of ECOWAS on 28 August 2020 demanded an immediate civilian transition in Mali and elections within 12 months as they considered sanctions after rebel troops toppled the country's president and seized power. The demands were spelt out after the new junta released ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, seized in the August 18 coup, but also apparently granted their new chief the powers of head of state. The coup leaders wanted a three-year handover period. This was rejected by the ECOWAS team, which called for an interim government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months. ECOWAS said that the person overseeing the handover should be "an individual, civilian, recognised... for their intellectual and moral standing" and that there should be a "civilian prime minister." It said "No military structure should be above the transition president".

Former Mali defence minister and retired colonel Ba Ndaw was named interim president on 05 October 2020 while the leader of the junta that seized power was appointed vice president. Prime Minister Moctar Ouane announced the government of 25 ministers, four of them military officials. Those positions are the ministries of defense, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation. Mali's ruling junta had come under intense pressure from leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to return power to civilians following the Aug. 18 coup that overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Political turmoil in Mali deepened 25 May 2021 as the country's strongman pushed out transitional leaders who had been tasked with steering the return to civilian rule after a coup last August. Assimi Goita, who headed a junta which seized power less than 10 months earlier, said that President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane had been stripped of their powers, and he promised elections in 2022. Ndaw and Ouane have been heading an interim government that was installed in September under the threat of regional sanctions, with the declared aim of restoring full civilian rule within 18 months. In a move that sparked widespread diplomatic anger, the pair were detained by army officers who were disgruntled by a government reshuffle. Goita said Ndaw and Ouane had been stripped of their duties for seeking to "sabotage" the transition, which would "proceed as normally." He said "The scheduled elections will be held in 2022".

Monday's government reshuffle, designed to respond to growing criticism of the interim government, saw the military keep the strategic portfolios it controlled during the previous administration. But two other coup leaders -- ex-defence minister Sadio Camara and ex-security minister Colonel Modibo Kone -- were replaced. Colonel Goita, who holds the rank of vice president in the transitional government, accused Ndaw and Ouane of failing to consult him on the reshuffle. "This kind of step testifies to the clear desire of the transitional president and prime minister to seek to breach the transitional charter," he said, describing this as a "demonstrable intent to sabotage the transition".

The detention of Ndaw and Ouane sparked international condemnation, which included a rare joint statement by the United Nations, African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union and the United States. France condemned the ousting of transitional leaders in Mali who had been tasked with steering the return to civilian rule. Calling the ousters a "coup d'etat", President Emmanuel Macron threatened sanctions by the European Union. "We are ready in the coming hours to take targeted sanctions" against those responsible, Macron said.

Mali's interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouan were freed from military detention, senior military and government officials said 27 May 2021. The two men have returned to their homes in the capital Bamako, those close to them said, though the conditions of their release were not clear. The development came a day after military officials said the country's transitional president and prime minister had "resigned" while in detention, a move the UN called "unacceptable".

Mali's junta leader Colonel Goita was declared transitional president 28 May 2021. The constitutional court's announcement came after President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane resigned before their release from military detention. The judgment stipulated that Goita would "exercise the functions of transitional president to lead the transition process to its conclusion", following his seizure of power. The constitutional court said it had made the decision due to the "vacancy in the presidency" following the resignation of caretaker president Bah Ndaw. Goita explained that the army had had little choice but to intervene. "We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defence and security forces and we chose cohesion," he said.

Mali's transitional government announced a new government on 11 June 2021, with several positions filled by army leaders. Colonel Sadio Camara, who was removed from office last month, is taking up his old post as defense minister. Colonel Daoud Aly Mohammedine was named security minister. Former security minister, Colonel Modibo Kone, was not included in the new government. Colonel Assimi Goita, who lead coups last month and in August, was sworn in as the transitional president on Tuesday. Civilian Choguel Kokalla Maiga was named prime minister. The transitional government promised new elections in February 2022, soon after they were hit with sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and removed from the African Union (AU).

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Page last modified: 24-06-2021 17:49:22 ZULU