Mali coup d’état

A military-led attempt to overthrow the government has once again left Mali in political wilderness

Photo by: Malik Konate/AFP.

— 2 minute read — By Sam Feierabend

African politics has long been awash with corruption and tension. Arguably, the reasons for this could stem back to the post-colonial borders set up by the West which in many cases led to rival indigenous tribes having to live cohesively in a single country. Therefore the ability to run and uphold a stable democratic system is hard with the level of corrupt officials and politicians that operate with groups and tribes to ensure that they are in power. In recent decades there have been numerous civil wars and genocides within unstable African countries such as Rwanda and Sudan as rival tribes and militia attempt to overthrow governments. August 2020 saw the latest coup d’état attempt in Mali.

Like other countries in the Sahara region, Mali is a young country after gaining independence from French colonial rule in 1960.  It sees a divide between the Tuareg tribe in the North of the country and the Mande tribes in the more prosperous South which has often caused tensions and makes Mali a hard country to govern efficiently. It has been subject to longstanding unrest and saw a coup d’état take place in 2012 before French army intervention helped to stabilise the Government.

Despite recent stability, there has been unrest throughout 2020 towards President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita due to suspicions of Government corruption as well as a floundering economy. Protests have been ongoing in Mali’s capital city of Bamako since June which lead to the military attempting the second coup d’état in a decade on 18th August.

The military stronghold of Kati saw shots being fired to signal the start of the takeover before the military moved to Bamako to arrest President Keita and Prime Minister Cisse. This sparked a mass protest with citizens demanding that the President resign immediately which was officially announced by the President himself on national television whilst being held captive along with dissolving the government.

Following this, the military leaders then addressed the nation declaring that all borders to Mali were officially shut and that fresh elections would be held in due course. The African and European Unions condemned the military takeover, with France calling for the detainees to be released immediately while ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) have imposed strict economic sanctions on Mali until January 2021.

The full effects of the coup are yet to be seen, but it has highlighted that politics within the poorest countries of Africa is in a fragile state and can collapse with any pressure. Stability in the third world has always been hard to achieve and with the growing uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic causing further public unrest, we may see more governments in poorer countries overthrown in the near future.