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CIAO Focus, February 2013: The Coup d'Etat in Mali

Prior to last March, Mali was deemed to be by most Western countries as one of the most democratic, stable and peaceful nations in Western Africa. The Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure had only another month of office before he stepped down and elections were to be held throughout the country.

In March 2012, disgruntled soldiers on several military bases had a coup, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, who was a little known officer and instructor at a military college in Bamako.

Sanogo stated to the media the reason for the anger amongst the soldiers was the widespread perception of corruption and looting of government funds by senior military personnel and government officials.  He also cited “a lack of training and equipment” provided to the troops in an attempt to thwart Tuareg rebels in the Northeast of Mali, many who fought as mercenaries for Gaddafi during the Libyan conflict. With sophisticated weapons, the Tuareg in January drove many of the Malian army units from several key towns in the region, such as Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu.

The heavily armed Tuareg force, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad is known by its French acronym, MVLA.  The Tuaregs, being primarily nomads, have never accepted a central government in Bamako and fought with the Malian Army in a revolt in the 1990s.

The coup by the Malian Army now allowed the Tuareg to expand their power and control in the remote north-east of the country, as army units abandoned towns and villages in an area covering more than 776,000 square kilometers. This is a territory three times the size of Britain complete with airports, arms dumps and training camps.3 The MNLA in April proclaimed the three regions as an independent state called Azawad.

--J.G. Gilmour, Journal of Military and Strategic Studies


 From the CIAO Database:

Mali's Conflict Refugees: Responding to a growing crisis

Threats to Peace and Security in the Sahel: Responding to the Crisis in Mali

The Terrorist Threat in North-West Africa: Part One

The Security Dilemma in Northeast Mali: Part Two

The Challenges of Retaking Northern Mali


Outside Sources: *

Mali Profile (BBC News)

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Mali to the United Nations

The Lesson from Mali: Do No Harm (Foreign Policy)

French Intervention in Mali Violates UN Resolution; Root of Crisis Marginalization of the North (The Real News Network, YouTube video)

UN Approves Intervention in Mali (The Real News Network, YouTube video)

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.