SITUATION UPDATE BRIEF: MALI – POLITICAL INSTABILITY WILL UNDERMINE COUNTER-INSURGENCY EFFORT

Key Takeaways

Mali will witness sustained protests and political instability in the weeks ahead, as opposition groups push for the creation of a new transitional government. This will drive physical security risks and disruption to travel, primarily in Bamako.

The appointment of a new administration would bring some short-term disruption to business-facing government functions and bureaucracy, such as tenders and licensing, as new ministers and their patronage networks get established.

In the longer term, the integration of the M5-RFP opposition coalition into government could undermine efforts to contain Mali’s jihadist insurgency. The group is hostile to the peace accord with northern separatist groups and wishes to negotiate directly with Islamists, putting them at odds with ECOWAS and Western partners, including France.

Background

On 4 July, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita met with opposition leader Imam Mahmoud Dicko to discuss demands published by the Movement of 5 June – Rally of the Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP) coalition on 30 June. M5-RFP is a collection of opposition and religious groups calling for a major shake-up of government in the face of Keita’s inability to contain the country’s worsening insecurity. They are now calling for the dissolution of the National Assembly, the removal of constitutional court judges and the establishment of a transitional government headed by a prime minister selected by M5-RFP. While the president has described the launch of talks with the M5-RFP as a success, their representatives claim Keita continues to refuse their demands and will proceed with demonstrations on 10 July as a result.

M5-RFP will sustain mass demonstrations amid political and economic tensions

The M5-RFP coalition was named after the mass demonstration launched by Dicko and a coalition of opposition parties in Bamako on 5 June. This involved 20,000 people according to police, although protest organisers claimed that roughly a million people participated. Regular mass demonstrations have been held in Bamako since to press for the resignation of President Keita. While largely peaceful, these have resulted road blocks around Independence Square and the use of teargas by security forces.

Public anger has grown over the deterioration of national security due to jihadist and ethnic violence, which caused the resignation of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga in April 2019 after 160 people were killed in an attack on Ogossagou in central Mali. This residual instability has been exacerbated by the economic impact of Covid-19, especially on the informal economy…

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