Coup d'état in Mali: a predictable conflict in a country with a entrenched crisis

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Carlos Faneca
  • The coup d état has had the support of part of the population of Bamako, but also other parts of the country.
    The coup d état has had the support of part of the population of Bamako, but also other parts of the country. Source: Devriese.
  • One of the Internally Displaced People s camps in Mali is located in a landfill.
    One of the Internally Displaced People s camps in Mali is located in a landfill. Source: AFP - Michele Cattani.
  • Kids in Mali.
    Kids in Mali. Source: Pixabay (CC License).

The continual demonstrations, led by the June 5 Movement, to protest for corruption and the situation in the country, drove the military to force the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

“It was a predictable situation that It's been coming for a while”. Several Catalan organizations working with Mali agree that the coup d’état that took place a few days ago in the country of western Africa was expected as a result of the political and economic crisis that Mali has been experiencing since 2012, and which has led the population to protest against the government for systematic corruption and the bad situation in the country. 

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had to resign after being detained by the insurgent military. He declared the dissolution of Parliament, as well as the government of Prime Minister Bobbou Cissé, who was arrested and transferred as well to a military base along with the President. The insurgents, who have the support of part of the population of the capital, Bamako, as well as other cities in the country, have assured that a civil transition will take place with elections after a “reasonable period”.

The former president of Mali has been facing, for months, demostrations led by the June 5 Movement of Imam Mahdoud Dicko, former president of the High Islamic Council of Mali. Corruption, as well as insecurity in the country, and other situations such as the teachers' strike that paralyzed the school year in Mali, fuel the country's crisis. Teacher protests, a struggle that has dragged on for years, demanded subsidies for housing, wage increases and funds for schools.

A situation that It's been coming for a while

Joana Mariné, a technician for the countries of French-speaking Africa in the Associació Catalana per la Pau, explains that for some time the standard of living of the population has been impoverished, while episodes of corruption by the government were increasing. "The last straw was the April elections where there were clear signs of electoral rigging," said Mariné, who considers that the coup d'état is the result of the mobilizations of the population that every week demanded the resignation of the government. “The population was already fed up,” she says.

According to the members of the Association who work in Mali, the population is waiting for where this whole process is going, although it seems that the military who have revolted promise a civil process with elections. However, she states that a negotiated and dialogued process would have been better before a coup d'état. 

On the other hand, the president of Ecos de Mali, Jordi Escudé, considers this is more a riot instead a coup d'etat, due to the fact that the military wants to withdraw once the Malian president resigns. Escudé also says it was an expected situation. "It's a country that is degrading from a security point of view, governments are one disaster after another, the corruption that exists is huge", he says. 

Escudé recalls that in 2012 there was another coup d'état that led Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a year later, to rise to power the following year after a turbulent months with several conflicts with the jihadists. 

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has done absolutely nothing”, regrets Escudé, who recalls the teachers' strike after months without been payed, a conflict that has been entrenched for two years and for which he has done nothing to resolve it. The president of Ecos de Mali regrets, however, that the next government will not be able to solve it in a short term. "It is difficult to solve because there is no interest on the international forces to do it. "They want this to continue like in the same way" he complains.

A major concern than the pandemic

Both representatives of the entities agree that the situation of political and economic crisis was of more concern than the coronavirus pandemic. "It is much more worrying because it is a poor country, in which the population is becoming more impoverished, and when people cannot live, it must find ways to solve this issue," said Mariné, who recalled that he was also concerned about the de facto division. of the country in two, in reference to the conflict with the north of the country.

"Like all countries in Africa, the PCR tests done are minimal, which is possible that there is more undetected infected population. They are countries that are used to having pandemics, so the issue of washing hands and hygiene, they have taken it on", he says, stating that the problem is that the population lives on a daily basis "and if one day they don't go out to work, the next day they can't eat, "something which makes it difficult for social distancing measures to be carried out.

“When the coronavirus pandemic broke out, the first thing the government did was close borders and schools, which exacerbated the economic crisis, and people revolted,” explains the president of Ecos de Mali. "The main problem they have is being able to eat, day after day," says Escudé. Now, the Malian population can only wait what's next a coup d'etat that has been condemned internationally despite the support of part of the country's population.

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