Mali: months of post-election crisis

AFP , Tuesday 18 Aug 2020

Opposition supporters react to the news of a possible mutiny of soldiers in the military base in Kati, outside the capital Bamako, at Independence Square in Bamako, Mali August 18, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

Mali has been gripped for months by a political crisis that has sparked the country's worst unrest in years, as a protest movement galvanised by a disputed election insists that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resign.

After reports that soldiers launched a "mutiny" outside the capital on Tuesday, here is a timeline of the crisis.

Disputed elections
On March 26, opposition leader Soumaila Cisse is kidnapped as he campaigns three days before a parliamentary election, in an unprecedented abduction of such a senior politician.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic which a day earlier had claimed Mali's first life, the first round of the parliamentary election goes ahead on March 29. It is tainted by abductions of election officials, the ransacking of polling stations and a deadly mine explosion.

The second round on April 19 is disrupted by incidents in the centre and the north of the country which prevent voters from casting their ballots.

On April 30, Mali's constitutional court overturns the results for some 30 seats, 10 of which benefited candidates from the president's party, triggering protests in several cities.

Alliance against president
On May 30 influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, opposition parties and civil society figures form a broad-based opposition alliance which calls for a demonstration to demand the resignation of President Keita.

It goes on to adopt the name, "Movement of June 5 -- Rally of Patriotic Forces".

The movement is critical of continued failures to stem the country's jihadist insurgency, inter-community bloodshed as well as the government's record on the economy and fighting corruption, along with the organisation of the legislative election.

On June 5, tens of thousands of people hit the streets in the capital Bamako.

Keita reappoints Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on June 12 and tasks him with forming the new government resulting from the elections.

On June 19 tens of thousands rally again, calling for Keita to resign.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) calls for the creation of a "consensus government of national unity".

In early July Keita makes various attempts to appease the opposition, but all are rejected and the movement's leaders call for parliament to be dissolved and urge civil disobedience.

Worst unrest in years
Violence breaks out at a mass demonstration in Bamako on July 10. Protesters attack parliament and storm the premises of a state broadcaster.

Clashes between protesters and security forces last three days and are the worst political unrest Mali has seen since 2012.

Eleven people died in the violence, according to an official tally, while the opposition says 23 died and the United Nations puts the number of fatalities at 14.

- No compromise -
On July 18 the opposition rejects a compromise proposed by an international mediation team led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.

Days later the opposition says it will halt protests in a "truce" ahead of the Eid festival.

In a summit on the crisis at the end of July, leaders of the ECOWAS bloc stand by Keita but call for the swift formation of a unity government.

The opposition rejects the plan and insists the president stand down.

Coup fears
On August 11 thousands of protesters return to the streets.

The next day security forces in the capital fire tear gas to clear hundreds of demonstrators from a central square where they had camped overnight.

The opposition declares on August 17 that it will stage daily protests culminating in a mass rally in Bamako at the end of the week.

On August 18 gunfire breaks out at a key army base near Bamako, triggering fears of a coup attempt. ECOWAS urges soldiers who launched a "mutiny" to immediately return to their barracks.

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