Diaspora Stories

Crisis in Mali: A Growing Concern for Africa’s Democracy

The likelihood of another military coup in Mali was fast gaining momentum when everything started. This was following the detention by the military of President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, who lead an interim government that was installed under the threat of regional sanctions following a coup last year August. Eventually, the military bared its fangs and forced the two leaders to resign.

Sources disclose that the two leaders were initially taken to Kati military camp on 24 May 2021 which Aljazeera says is notorious for bringing an abrupt end to the rule of Malian leaders. It was the same camp that former President Ibrahim Keita was forced to resign in August 2021. Aljazeera also confirmed that a mutiny there helped topple Keita’s predecessor, Amadou Toumani Toure, in 2012.

Wading in on the matter, the Nigerian Government flayed the detention of President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane. Describing the development as “completely unacceptable” in a statement released on 24 May 2021 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwoye, the Federal Government noted that the detention could botch peace-building efforts, as well as the timeline slated for the return of Mali to democratic governance:

“As a result, the Federal Government of Nigeria demands that the President and Prime Minister be released immediately and unconditionally. The perpetrators of the heinous act should be aware that stakeholders in the area and Mali’s friends oppose any intimidation of detained officials, including forced resignations.”

Also, the United Nations and African Union, in a joint statement, demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of Bah Ndaw and Moctar Ouane. The statement noted that “The international community rejects in advance any act of coercion, including forced resignations”.

The statement which was equally appended by ECOWAS, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany described the detention as “reckless”, while concurrently insisting “that the ill-considered action taken today carries the risk of weakening the mobilization of the international community in support of Mali.”

Even though the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “What happened was grave and serious and we are ready to consider necessary measures”, fears have continued to grow within and outside Mali. This is because the “adopted duo” of Duane and Ndaw were the results of the threat of sanctions (though regional) on Malian’s military generals who agreed to hand over power to a transitional government after they forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign at the same Kati camp where the president and prime minister were held. Reports reveal that they left the camp after their forced resignation.

Meanwhile, after several years of modernisation, shadows of the past continue to trail the 21st century. This is in view of such relics as military coups and dictatorship characteristic of earlier centuries which are now seeping into the new century. When one thinks of these scenarios, one is moved to ask how much progress we have made in the world to move away from the turbulent past.

This growing concern is not only limited to Africa. It is a global phenomenon. Regrettably, third-world and underdeveloped countries are victims of this assault on democracy. Such development raises concerns generally for democracy across the world.

If this latest development in Mali sounds like de-javu it is because a similar occurrence took place in Myanmar which eclipsed in a protest that became global.

Read Also: Former Mali President, Toure Dies at 72

A coup d’état in Myanmar had kicked off on 1 February 2021, when democratically elected members of the country’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was deposed by Myanmar’s military. Myanmar’s military proclaimed a year-long state of emergency and transferred power to the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services, Min Aung Hlaing. It declared the results of the November 2020 general election invalid and stated its intent to hold a new election at the end of the state of emergency even though most of Myanmar’s people were satisfied with the results. This met with a national protest that went global.

Even so, neither the military nor the government in Mali has said anything or responded to the international outcry regarding the detention. And despite the relative tranquillity in the country’s capital, Malians are worried about who is actually in charge. Crises are likely to follow if the unexpected happens as we have seen in other climes.

It is particularly grave for a country like Mali where the forced departure of Keita’s predecessor, Amadou Toure’s brought about a tribal rebellion, associated with the Tuareg ethnic group. It was reported that what later eclipsed into war was hijacked by al Qaeda-linked fighters.

It is important to mention at this juncture that the detention of Ouane and Ndaw came on the heels of Mali’s interim government cabinet reshuffle that took place on 25 May 2021. Prime Minister Moctar Ouane had earlier on resigned but was immediately reappointed to carry out the reshuffle.

Sadio Camara and Colonel Modibo Kone who were instrumental in the first coup and were part of the cabinet were replaced in the shuffle. There are indications that their removal followed public criticism that the cabinet was populated by the military which decreases the chances of a return to civil rule when next year election holds.

Analysts have thus said that the second coup could be in response to the reshuffling of the cabinet, especially following the removal of both Sadio Camara and Modibo Kone. If this is anything to go by, then it reveals that Mali’s military is not committed to a real transition of power and elections next year. It is only proper that world leaders and the international community should continue to put pressure on the military in Mali and maintain vehement opposition against all future attempts to subvert democracy in Africa.