During a televised address, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned. The announcement comes after the president was detained by soldiers on Tuesday, 18 August. The country’s parliament has also been dissolved, plunging the country into political uncertainty. It remains unclear if the military is now officially in charge of the country.
The news of the president’s departure was met with jubilation by protesters in the country’s capital. Footage on social media and media websites show people dancing and cheering on military vehicles and soldiers as they move around Bamako. The Ministry of Justice building was also set alight in celebration.
All land and air borders in the country have been closed and a curfew has been implemented from 09:00 to 17:00 until further notice. Military leaders have pledged to set up a civilian transitional government, inviting the country’s civil society and political parties to join them to prepare for elections.
The driving force behind the apparent coup appears to have stemmed from mutinying soldiers who took control of the Kati military camp. The soldiers then moved on the capital and arrested the president, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other senior government officials. The numbers of those involved remains undetermined as well as who will now take the leadership of the government.
The events came following a long political crisis where opposition protesters have taken to the streets demanding the departure of Keita. Protesters have accused Keita of allowing the economy to collapse thus worsening the security situation across the country.
Foreign embassies have announced that citizens/travellers based in Bamako should remain indoors where possible and avoid protests, especially within the capital. The coup has been condemned by the European Union, African Union and the United Nations, as well as representatives of several countries.
SOLACE GLOBAL COMMENT
Details surrounding the coup remain unclear, the mutiny appears to have started in Kati, similarly to the coup that occurred in 2012. The mutiny also comes off the back of ongoing protests that began on 5 June.
The country’s protests had been growing in recent weeks, with demonstrators complaining that not enough has been done to address the issues that the country faces. The protesters pointed fingers at those in charge for failing to adequately address the country’s struggling economy, improve job prospects, and fight corruption and the ongoing insurgency that is not only destabilising the country, but also the wider region.
Keita has, in 2013 when he won election by a landslide, vowed a zero-tolerance for corruption. However, the former president’s popularity has faded over time. While he was reelected in the 2018 presidential elections, they were marred by low turnout and fraud allegations, which created frustration among the public, particularly among the country’s youth.
The pressure on Keita has only grown since the beginning of the protests in June. With the fight against insurgents dragging on, despite French military support, poor economic prospects and violent protests, the former president’s position was becoming untenable. Indeed, regional mediators had arrived in Bamako to try and ease the unrest; however, the military decided to step in.
The coup represents a major setback for France. Paris has invested heavily in the country both financially and militarily with over $1 billion in funding and 5,000 soldiers. Many Malians are now calling on the French to withdraw their troops following the perceived lack of progress.
The instability created by the coup also heightens the risk that Islamic extremist insurgents and Tuareg rebels may look to exploit the situation. With the Malian military struggling to maintain control over large parts of the country, France has recently increased its efforts and is seeking increased European military support.
SOLACE GLOBAL ADVICE
- If currently in the country, especially the capital and the surrounding area, travellers should remain indoors and minimize all movement for the time being.
- Be aware that all land and air borders are currently closed, travel will be deferred until these restrictions have been lifted.
- Avoid political and governmental buildings in Bamako due to the likelihood of unrest.
- Ensure that you carry personal identification documents at all times. Consider making photocopies of important documents incase of confiscation, theft or loss.
- Travellers should have a grab bag packed and ready, said bag should be carried whenever leaving your residence.
- Review and update your escalation and evacuation plans for Mali, focusing on what protocols staff members should follow in the event there is major deterioration in the security environment.
- Anticipate a heightened military presence throughout the city with additional security being reported near all major political and media buildings. Exercise vigilance and follow all official directives.
- Travellers should follow local media and use the Solace Secure app to stay up to date with security-related events including potential protests, clashes or additional military deployment.