The West African state of Mali, where mid-rank soldiers claimed Thursday to have ousted the government, had been considered democratic in recent years, but nonetheless has a long history of instability.
Timeline of major political events in Mali
- 1960: Along with most of France's other African colonies, Mali becomes independent. Under President Modibo Keita, it declares itself a socialist state.
- November 1968: Keita is overthrown in a military coup led by Moussa Traore, who becomes "president for life" and rules the country for a total of 22 years.
- 1990: Start of a rebellion by the Tuareg ethnic group in the north of the country. It continues with varying intensity to this day.
- March 1991: Traore is ousted in his turn by a military rebellion which involves heavy street fighting in the capital Bamako and leaves over 100 people dead. Amadou Toumani Toure is installed as president.
- April 1992: The regime holds elections under a new constitution providing for multi-party democracy. Alpha Oumar Konare is elected president; he will be elected for a second five-year term in 1997.
- June 2002: After a new election, Toure returns as president.
- 2003: Following the attacks of 11 September 2001 on the United States, and the ensuing US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the arid West African region of which Mali is a part sees an increase in attacks by Islamist groups. In the worst incident, 32 European tourists are held for several months in Mali, and one of them dies.
- May-July 2006: New outbreak of fighting between government forces and Tuaregs in the north.
- April 2007: Toure is again declared the winner of a presidential election.
- July 2010: French and Mauritanian forces mount a raid on islamist forces in the northern Malian desert. The main group operating in the vast Sahel region calls itself Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
- 2011: The overthrow of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya sends large numbers of Tuaregs who had joined his armed forces fleeing back to their home region.
- March 22: Soldiers claiming the state is not giving them the means to fight a northern Tuareg rebellion say they have overthrown Toure's regime and set up a National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State.