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Political Crisis in Mali Shows No Signs of Subsiding

In a recent turn of events in the political crisis plaguing Mali, Malian army officers have detained President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane. The army is reported to be unhappy with the recent shuffle in the government.

In the recent reshuffle, the military has been given all the previous posts to but two posts were replaced. However, the military detained Ndaw and Ouane. Colonel Assimi Goita of the military has accused President Bah Ndaw and PM Moctar Ouane of violating the transitional charter. He said they were seeking to sabotage the transition process.

Earlier in May, the opposition M5-RFP, the opposition, had demanded the dissolution of the transitional government. According to M5-FRP the reforms are slow and the military is playing a prominent role in the process. Amidst these demands, Prime Minister Ouane resigned, but he was reappointed again to carry out the reshuffle in the interim government.

In 2020, after months of anti-government protests, the government of Mali was overthrown in a coup when the military soldiers turned mutinous and took arms in August 2020. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were taken hostage on August 18 and on the next day the President declared his resignation. His term was set to expire in 2023, however, Mr Keita said he did not wish to see bloodshed. The people who carried out the coup called themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). Although the military assured a return to civilian rule, they wanted a military-led transitional body to rule the country for three years.

This overthrow of the government by the military was criticised in international circles. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a prominent regional bloc suspended Mali from the organisation and the member countries took other measures like shutting borders and financial sanctions. In September 2020, ECOWAS gave an ultimatum to the military that a civilian government should be appointed before September 15. However, the leaders could not reach an agreement over transferring power to a civilian government while the military insisted on the transitional government.

Late in September, Mali’s former Defence Minister Bah Ndaw was sworn as interim President of the country’s new transitional government and Goita was appointed as an interim vice president. Ndaw then appointed former Foreign Minister Moctar Ouane as Prime Minister of Mali. Following this, ECOWAS lifted the sanctions on Mali to facilitate ease of transition to a civilian government.

The transitional government in April 2021 announced that the country will hold elections in 2022. According to the statement given by Colonel Assimi Goita the scheduled election will be held as planned.