After much instability in northern Mali over the past few months due to efforts by the MNLA to gain independence for the “Azawad” territory (most of the Northern region) following a huge boost in arms as fallout from the Ghadafi rebellion, the military has now revolted against the government in a coup d’état that began yesterday with the takeover of the Presidential Palace and the country’s radio and single television station, and was confirmed this morning in an announcement from the military that suspended the Constitution “until the institution of a new order.”
This is the country’s second coup d’état in 25 years. In 1990, the military took control of General Moussa Traoré’s dictatorship in an effort led by current (at least, as of yesterday) president Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT), who is now himself being ousted, to institute a democracy. ATT was due to end his term with elections on April 29 - a month was clearly too long to wait in the view of the military factions who rebelled, led by a young Captain Amadou Sanogo.
There has been growing frustration against ATT and the government during the MNLA’s growing violence, especially by military families and friends who are frustrated by a lack of resources and arms for soldiers facing the rebels. There had been rumors that ATT was cooperating with the MNLA and purposefully limiting the military’s offense and defense as a result - though these rumors were never confirmed, nor do they necessarily hold weight in a region where suspicions abound easily around governments and people in power. Regardless, following talks “that went badly” yesterday with the Minister of Defense in Kati, a military camp 13km outside Bamako, the military revolted.
The mutineers are calling themselves the “National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State,” and claim to intend to move forward with elections to restore democracy. We will see.
It is still unclear how much support there actually is for the coup, and almost all foreign nations and organizations are condemning it in favor or more peaceful methods.
Our sources in Bamako report lots of sounds of gunfire, as well as pillaging of stores, cars, wealthy neighborhoods, petrol, and more, but everyone is safe. We are currently most worried about one of the Coulibaly women whose husband was recently named Minister - in the 1990 coup, the ministers’ houses were all pillaged and destroyed.
Djibi is due to return to Bamako in one month - we are praying things will return to safety. For now, we are glued to social media, which is an incredible resource in times like these.
My host mother Nafi (Ya) and her co-wife Ami were due to leave the house today for the first time in four months, as is custom in the traditional grieving period for their late husband, Abdoulaye. The military has, however, imposed a curfew and told people to stay in their homes.
***PLEASE NOTE: I AM NOT A JOURNALIST . Reports coming from Africa (among other places) can be messy, unclear, and contain holes. Most of us, even those in Bamako, are still waiting to understand the real goings-on, and news is changing by the minute. Take nothing I said here as absolute fact, it is my understanding of the situation based on news sources and my own connections in Mali.
Here are a few of the better articles & sources I’ve found so far:
The coup announcement video with English translation from the New York Times: