MALI’S COUP AND THE LEGACY OF FRENCH COLONIALISM
On 18 August, the Malian military arrested president Ibrahim Boubacar Këita (IBK) and prime minister Boubou Cissé, and set up the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) This coup d’etat did not fall from sky overnight, it was the result of several months of popular protests and social and political jolt in particular since the fraudulent election earlier this year stigmatized by the crowd in the streets of Bamako. In fact, street protests against Ibrahim Boubacar Këita’s re-election in March 2020 escalated with political opposition parties, trade unions, political parties and religious groups.
The coup, the third since 1968, was conducted by the colonels, Malick Diaw, Ismaël Wagué, Assimi Goïta, Sadio Camara, and Modibo Koné who have worked closely with France, Russia and the US promised to relinquish power after the organization of fair and credible election.
France, the United States, the United Nations, the African Union, and the regional bloc (Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS) have condemned the coup and called – in one way or another – for a return to the status quo; this is unacceptable to the people.
After its independence in 1960, Mali, twice the size of France, under the first president Modibo Keïta to build a state opting for socialist and pan-African policy and public sector delivery of social goods. Like all the for former colonized countries, Mali was had little agricultural because of its poor soil and lack of access to water and its one crop, the cotton representing more than half of its GDP did not compete with the world market. Mali had little industry, the oil was imported, and the hydroelectric plants at Kayes and Sotuba cannot provide the necessary energy to create modern manufactures.
Mali, like all former French African colonies seeking for a real independence came under attack when a coup toppled in 1968 Keïta by the Military Committee for National Liberation, backed by Paris. After two decades of crises, under the street protests, the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA) led by Alpha Oumar Konaré won the election in the March 1991
But Konaré’s government was dependent of the International monetary Fund-IMF) with a debt of over $3 billion. As it is often the case, the more government went into debt, the less able was to build up public sector and independent economy. Mali’s main resource, the gold reserves, the third largest in the world, was pillaged and siphoned by gold mining firms – such as Canada’s Barrick Gold and the UK’s Hummingbird Resources.
In 2013, Mali became a recolonized country following a French-led military intervention called Operation Serval under the pretext of fighting Islamist groups in the north of the country.
In May 2012, the French approved a plan to intervene in the region, legalized by the UN Resolution 2085 of December 2012. The G5 Sahel agreement yoked the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger into the security agenda of France and the United States. French troops entered the old colonial base at Tessalit (Mali), while the US built the world’s largest drone base in Agadez (Niger).
In early 2011, the war to destroy Libya led by France, NATO and the US destabilised Africa’s Sahel region sending many Tuareg to seek their livelihood in the cities of Mali and in Libya’s military as well as its informal labour force. In addition to the arrival in the area of various Islamist groups expelled from Algeria. The Islamist groups, – the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – grouped and invaded northern Mali in 2012-13. These groups – notably AQIM – had become part of the trans-Sahara smuggling networks (cocaine, arms, humans) The threat posed by these groups was instrumentalized by France and the United States to garrison the Sahel countries from Mauritania to Chad.