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Mali – update June 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 5, June 2022
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Violence in Mali increased. ACLED reported a slight increase in violent events against civilians and over 200% increase in battles throughout the country when compared to April 2022, however, levels of violence were significantly less than those of March. In Mopti, violence against civilians continues to increase, violent events in May were almost 70% higher than the monthly average of 2022, civilian fatalities have decreased. Violence was heavily concentrated in Mopti, where JNIM militants attacked two army positions in Tenenkou circle and clashed with the military in the Djenne circle during the second week of May.[1] During the third week of May, the military claimed to have killed militants.[2] During the last week of the month, JNIM attacked civilians and clashed with other militias. The military launched an anti-militant operation in the region and claimed over a dozen fatalities.[3]

Mali renounced its defence agreements with France which had been operating since 2014, arguing that “as of this moment, there is no legal basis for France to operate on Malian soil.”[4] French President, Emanuel Macron, had already announced in February that French troops would withdraw within six months.[5] In mid–May the government announced it would also be leaving the G5 Sahel, which includes the termination of the joint anti-jihadist military force, after it was blocked from assuming the presidency of the group. This further isolates the country further in a context where relations with western allies have also deteriorated, especially over its recent rapprochement with Russia.[6]

An attempted coup against the military junta took place on the night of 11 to 12 May, by soldiers supported by a Western state according to Colonel Assimi Goïta.[7] Over a dozen officers, including General Moussa Bemba Keita, the former chief of staff and former minister of security, have been arrested.[8]

Context

In March 2012 a military coup overthrew the democratically elected government led by Amadou Toumani Toure, triggered by the government’s poor handling of the Tuareg rebellion.[9] After the coup, Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups took control of the northern part of the country. Although they were dislodged, the region is still plagued by intercommunal and extremist violence and Islamist armed groups are taking control of villages and imposing sharia law.[10]

Mali has suffered two military takeovers in the last two years, the last one took place on 24 May 2021, when members of the armed forces, led by Assimi Goïta, arrested the transitional president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane in what was called a “coup within a coup”.[11] The move came after the announcement of a cabinet reshuffle, where leaders of the coup were removed.

International response:

Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe agreed to act as a mediator in Mali’s political crisis resolving disputes among regional actors as well as the international community.[12]

The UN Secretary General, Guterres, urged the military junta in Mali as well as those in Burkina Faso and Guinea, to hand power back to civilian rule as soon as possible.[13] He also expressed concern that the Mali and Burkina Faso governments were undermining the anti-extremist Sahel force.[14]

France regretted Mali’s departure from the G5[15] and Chad’s interim president Deby urged Mali’s military leader to reconsider its withdrawal.[16]

 

[1] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 7-13 May 2022, 19 May 2022,

https://acleddata.com/2022/05/19/regional-overview-africa-7-13-may-2022/

[2] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 14-20 May 2022, 26 May 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/05/26/regional-overview-africa-14-20-may-2022/

[3] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 21-27 May 2022, 1 June 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/06/01/regional-overview-africa-21-27-may-2022/

[4] Africa News, “Mali: France has lost ‘legal basis’ for military operations,” 4 May 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/05/04/mali-france-has-lost-legal-basis-for-military-operations//

[5] Crisis Group, “France’s Troop Withdrawal from Mali,” 16 March 2022, https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/sahel/mali/frances-troop-withdrawal-mali

[6] Nation, “Mali withdraws from regional anti-jihadist force,” 16 May 2022, https://nation.africa/africa/news/mali-withdraws-from-regional-anti-jihadist-force-3816960

[7] All Africa, “Mali: Junta Says it Foiled Coup Attempt,” 17 May 2021, https://allafrica.com/stories/202205170298.html

[8] All Africa, “Mali: Army Officials Arrested for Attempted Coup,” 18 May 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202205180459.html

[9] All Africa, “Mali’s Crisis Hits 10-Year Mark,” 30 March 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202203310452.html?utm_campaign=daily- headlines&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=aans-view-link

[10] Ibid.

[11] The Conversation, “Inside Mali’s coup within a coup,” 26 May 2021, https://theconversation.com/inside-malis-coup-within-a-coup-161621

[12] Al Jazeera, “Togo agrees to mediate in Mali political crisis,” 5 May 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/5/togo-leader-agrees-to-mali-crisis-mediator-role-officials

[13] All Africa, “West Africa: UN Chief Guterres Urges West African Juntas to Return to Civilian Rule,” 2 May 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202205020222.html

[14] Al Arabiya News, “Coups undermining Sahel anti-extremist force: UN chief,” 11 May 2022, https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/05/11/Coups-undermining-Sahel-anti-extremist-force-UN-chief

[15] Africa News, “France “regrets” Mali’s departure from the G5 Sahel,” 18 May 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/05/18/france-regrets-mali-s-departure-from-the-g5-sahel/

[16] Reuters, “Chad urges Mali junta to reconsider withdrawal from anti-militant force,” 20 May 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/chad-urges-mali-junta-reconsider-withdrawal-anti-militant-force-2022-05-20/

 

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