Gunfire heard at army base outside Mali capital
Gunfire broke out at a key army base near Mali's capital Bamako on Tuesday, witnesses and a security official said, triggering fears of a mutiny in the crisis-stricken Sahel state. Details of the events were sketchy, but the sources said the soldiers fired their guns into the air at a base in Kati, a town some 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako. An officer at the camp told AFP that the gunfire was an act of "rebellion" and many soldiers wereDetails of the events were sketchy, but the sources said the soldiers fired their guns into the air at a base in Kati, a town some 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako.
© Photographer: Getty Images/Getty Images Europe BAMAKO, MALI - AUGUST 18: Crowds cheer as soldiers parade in vehicles along the Boulevard de l'Independance on August 18, 2020 in Bamako, Mali. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse have been taken captive by mutinying soldiers, according to multiple news reports. Their arrest was preceded by a takeover the Kati military camp, about 15km from Bamako.(Photo by John Kalapo/Getty Images)
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The last time a military junta seized power in Mali, in the spring of 2012, it lasted barely three weeks: International pressure, first from West African neighbors and then from the wider world, persuaded the coup’s leaders to return power to a civilian administration. But even in that short time, Tuareg rebels in the north capitalized on the political chaos in Bamako by grabbing large swaths of territory, effectively splitting the country in two.
Growing fears for regional security after military coup in Mali
Ex-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has resigned after a day of tensions in Mali that had started with a mutiny in the military camp of Kati, just 9 miles from the capita l city of Bamako. © Baba Ahmed/AP Security forces ride in a truck in the capital Bamako, Mali, Aug. 19, 2020. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced on national broadcaster ORTM that he had decided "to leave my functions, all my functions, as of this moment. And with all legal consequences: the dissolution of the National Assembly and that of the government. May Allah help and bless Mali.
The north became a haven for terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda’s North African franchise. It would take a French military intervention, followed by a larger United Nations force, to push back the Tuareg rebels and their Islamist fellow travelers. Eight years on, that task is far from complete.
Despite the presence of 15,000 UN peacekeepers, jihadist violence continues, not only in northern Mali, but also in its eastern neighbor, Burkina Faso. And a new menace now stalks the Sahel region: the Islamic State.
With a new coup in Mali, the world can only hope events move even more quickly in Bamako than they did in 2012, but much more slowly in the north. As before, it will fall to Mali’s neighbors — specifically, the Economic Community of West African States, known as Ecowas — to broker a political resolution of the crisis. African forces, which make up the largest component of the UN presence, will also bear much of the burden of stanching the Islamist resurgence.
Pompeo condemns 'mutiny' in Mali
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday condemned the military coup in Mali and called for the release of arrested government officials and their families as well as assurances about their safety.Pompeo labeled Tuesday's events a "mutiny" and called on "all political and military actors to work towards a restoration of constitutional government.""The United States strongly condemns the August 18 mutiny in Mali as we would condemn any forcible seizure of power," the secretary said in a statement.
The new junta has promised a transition to democracy, without offering a timeline. Ecowas is unimpressed: It has denounced the coup, called for sanctions against its leaders and demanded the restoration of the constitutional order. Member states have closed their borders to Mali and suspended trade.
This brand of diplomatic hardball brought the 2012 coup leaders to the table. Much will depend on whether Ecowas presses for the reinstatement of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was forced to resign by the junta. Eight years ago, the group pressured his predecessor, Amadou Toumani Toure, to resign, which then allowed the coup leaders to back down and hand power to a transitional administration under the president of the National Assembly, Dioncounda Traore.
But that solution may not work this time. A powerful alliance of opposition groups, led by the conservative cleric Mahmoud Dicko, will demand a say in the succession. The group, known collectively as the M5-RFP, the French acronym for “June 5 Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces,” has been leading protests in Bamako all summer long.
West African Leaders Meet on Mali Coup as Condemnation Grows
West African leaders will meet Thursday to discuss the military coup that toppled Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, as international condemnation of the military takeover grows. © Photographer: Annie Risemberg/AFP via Getty Images Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff and military junta spokesperson Ismael Wague (C) speaks during a press conference in Kati on August 19, 2020, a day after the military arrested Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and he officially resigned.
M5-RFP is unlikely to go along with a transitional government led by the current president of the National Assembly, Moussa Timbine, a Keita acolyte whose election to the assembly was among those denounced by opposition groups as fraudulent. They have already rejected a previous Ecowas proposal for a unified government. Nor will they tolerate a repeat of the 15-month interregnum between the end of the 2012 coup and elections in 2013.
But the unity of the opposition groups gives Ecowas something to work with. For now, the regional bloc will likely not have to reprise its 2017 intervention in Gambia, when member states mustered troops to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to cede power. Nor is France keen to play a major role in resolving the crisis in Bamako: President Emmanuel Macron, after a quick round of calls to the leaders of neighboring states, said he would support Ecowas’s efforts.
Macron has tended to view Mali primarily as a counterterrorism challenge, but the coup should serve as a lesson — one all too familiar to American presidents — that the failure to address political problems undermines all other agendas. The French leader can only hope that the Ecowas leadership can find a solution before matters get any worse in Bamako and the jihadists feel emboldened elsewhere.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Bobby Ghosh is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and Africa.
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EU freezes Mali training missions after coup .
EU freezes Mali training missions after coupBRUSSELS/BAMAKO (Reuters) - The European Union has suspended its training missions in Mali after the military coup this month that removed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from power, EU officials said on Wednesday.