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Tensions continued to mount between transitional govt and coalition of northern armed groups signatory to 2015 Algiers peace accord, and Islamic State gained further ground in Ménaka region.
Relations between govt and Algiers Accord signatory groups deteriorated further. Army aircraft 5 April flew over Kidal city (Kidal region in north), headquarters of coalition of former rebel groups Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA); CMA responded with warning shots, and same day denounced ceasefire “violation” and “grave provocation”. In effort to reboot peace process, accord’s international mediation mechanism (led by Algeria) 9 April proposed meetings with interim govt 17 April, and with govt and signatory groups 24 April, which Bamako declined. Further stoking tensions, armed forces reported arresting on 23 April 12 “terrorists” in rare operation in Ménaka region (also north); CMA however claimed detainees were coalition members. Algerian FM Ahmed Attaf 27 April visited Bamako, held talks with interim president, Col. Goïta; in joint statement, leaders committed to reviving 2015 deal.
Islamic State pursued advance in Ménaka, violence continued in centre. Following weeks-long fighting with al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), Islamic State Sahel Province 11 April took control of Tidermène town (Ménaka), in effect encircling regional capital Ménaka and driving displacement. In Mopti region (centre), govt forces and allied Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group elements 1 April reportedly killed nine civilians in Kourkanda-Peulh village; military claimed eight of those killed were jihadists. Suspected JNIM combatants 22 April launched suicide attacks in Sévaré town (also Mopti), leaving 10 civilians dead and over 60 wounded; military reportedly killed 28 assailants.
Tensions with UN resurfaced ahead of UN mission in Mali’s mandate renewal. UN Security Council members at 12 April meeting expressed concern about frozen peace process with northern armed groups and possible presidential election delay after Malian authorities in March indefinitely postponed constitutional referendum; ahead of vote on UN mission (MINUSMA)’s mandate renewal in June, UNSG Special Representative for Mali El-Ghassim Wane also urged Bamako to lift restrictions on MINUSMA operations. Meanwhile, as disinformation campaign sought to attribute 22 April attack to MINUSMA, angry mob 23 April assaulted and wounded two MINUSMA staff in Sévaré.
Authorities postponed constitutional referendum, missing first deadline on timetable to return to constitutional rule; jihadist violence and army operations took heavy toll on civilians.
Bamako postponed constitutional referendum, cracked down on critics. Transitional govt 10 March announced constitutional referendum originally due 19 March would be “slightly” delayed, notably to install subdivisions of election management body in all regions, as recommended during 2021 national dialogue; however reaffirmed commitment to holding presidential election in Feb 2024 as agreed with regional body ECOWAS. Meanwhile, security forces 13 March arrested radio and television host and civil society activist Ras Bath two days after he described death in custody of former PM Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga in 2022 as “assassination”; 15 March detained influencer “Rose Vie Chère” on charges including “inciting rebellion” days after she denounced “failure” of interim authorities.
Govt accused northern armed groups of degrading Algiers peace agreement. In letter to Algeria dated 24 Feb and leaked 1 March, Malian authorities denounced “flagrant violations” of 2015 Algiers peace agreement by signatory armed groups, notably coalition of former rebel groups Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), accusing them of collaborating with jihadist groups. CMA did not officially respond to allegations.
Jihadist violence persisted in north. In Ménaka region, Islamic State Sahel Province (IS-Sahel) and al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 1 March clashed near Agare Mbaou locality; each group claimed killing dozens of rivals. In Gao region, presumed JNIM elements 9 March killed eight civilians near Wabaria village; IS-Sahel 14 March launched attacks in Anchawadi commune, leaving eight civilians and four pro-govt militiamen dead. Over 400 vehicles belonging to signatory armed groups 7 March reportedly gathered near Anefis town, Kidal region, likely in preparation for operations against IS-Sahel.
Abuses against civilians continued amid military operations in centre. In Mopti region, Malian and Russian paramilitary Wagner Group forces 6 March reportedly killed five civilians and arrested at least a dozen during operation in Sossobe-Togoro village; Malian air force 7 March carried out airstrikes allegedly targeting ethnic Fulani hamlets between Kilimpo and Koko villages, reportedly leaving a dozen civilians dead.
Bamako expelled UN mission’s human rights chief, tensions between interim authorities and northern armed groups reached new heights, and new reports of human rights abuses emerged amid military operations in centre.
Relations with UN mission MINUSMA deteriorated further. After civil society representative Aminata Cheick Dicko 27 Jan denounced abuses by Malian and Russian forces before UN Security Council, govt 5 Feb requested MINUSMA’s human rights chief leave country within 48 hours, citing his “partiality” in choosing Dicko for Security Council testimony.
Govt strengthened relations with Russia and military-led neighbours. Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 7 Feb met with Interim President Col. Goïta in first ever visit to capital Bamako, saluted ongoing military cooperation. Burkinabé PM Kyélem de Tambèla 1 Feb travelled to Bamako to discuss bilateral security cooperation, while PM Choguel Maïga 23-26 Feb travelled to Burkinabé capital Ouagadougou, signed counter-terrorism cooperation agreement with Burkinabé counterpart. FM Diop 9 Feb met with Burkinabé and Guinean counterparts in Ouagadougou, discussed joining forces against West African regional bloc ECOWAS sanctions (see Burkina Faso and Guinea).
Northern armed groups and Bamako exchanged threats of military action. Permanent Strategic Framework bringing together signatory groups of 2015 Algiers Accord 1 Feb met with accord’s international mediation mechanism (led by Algeria), warned armed groups would “take action” if govt continues to block accord’s implementation. Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), coalition of three signatory rebel groups, 8 Feb announced merger into single entity. Member of transitional legislature 10 Feb claimed war with signatory armed groups was “inevitable”; CMA immediately denounced “belligerent” comments. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslim (JNIM) leader Iyad ag Ghaly late Jan-early Feb toured northern Mali, reportedly met with local notables including leaders of signatory armed groups to discuss cooperation against Islamic State-Sahel Province.
Army faced allegations of abuses amid ongoing operations in centre. Military 7 Feb announced operation against JNIM in Korientzé village (Mopti region) had killed 37 fighters. Locals alleged Malian and Russian Wagner forces 13 Feb killed five civilians in Soumouni village (Ségou region), whose inhabitants are believed to have reached agreement with JNIM.
Jihadist militants launched spate of attacks in south, transitional govt encountered resistance to constitutional reform plans, and months-long tensions with Côte d’Ivoire abated.
Jihadist attacks continued including in southern region. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 2 Jan launched simultaneous attacks in southern Koulikoro region, killing two people in Kassela village (20km from Bamako) and another five in Markacoungo town (80km from Bamako). Also in Koulikoro, JNIM 15 Jan reportedly ambushed armed forces near Kolokani village, killing five soldiers while also losing 15 combatants. In centre, JNIM 10 Jan launched twin attacks on govt forces between Dia and Diafarabé towns (Mopti region), and Koumara and Macina towns (Koulikoro and Ségou regions, respectively); 14 soldiers and 31 jihadists reportedly killed. Meanwhile, in Ménaka region further north, Islamic State Sahel Province (IS-Sahel) militants targeted civilians, notably killing eight people in Inagam and Assakereye villages 5 Jan.
Transitional authorities’ constitutional reform plan faced opposition. Several opposition groups, including supporters of influential Imam Mahmoud Dicko 9 Jan, announced boycott of meeting convened by govt to discuss draft constitution ahead of constitutional referendum scheduled for March. Meeting 12 Jan proceeded with only 50 of 281 invited participants present. Authorities 14 Jan used tear gas to disperse demonstration to welcome Dicko back from Saudi Arabia to capital Bamako.
Tensions with Côte d’Ivoire eased as Mali freed Ivorian soldiers detained since July. Interim President Col. Assimi Goïta 6 Jan pardoned 49 Ivorian soldiers detained in July 2022 on allegations of undermining state security; 46 soldiers next day returned to Côte d’Ivoire (three had been released in Sept 2022). In phone call, Ivorian President Ouattara 9 Jan invited Goïta to visit Côte d’Ivoire (see Côte d’Ivoire).
In other important developments. After signatory armed groups late Dec suspended participation in 2015 Algiers Accord, Malian FM Abdoulaye Diop 15-16 Jan travelled to Algeria, met counterpart Ramtane Lamamra and President Tebboune to discuss issues related to peace agreement. Bamako later in month reportedly declined Algerian proposal to host meeting between stakeholders of 2015 agreement, which would have conformed with signatory armed groups’ request for meeting “on neutral ground”.
Northern armed groups suspended participation in peace process to protest junta’s lack of political will to implement 2015 Algiers agreement; security situation remained volatile in north and centre.
Northern armed groups pulled out of Algiers peace process. Coalition of northern armed groups including Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) 22 Dec suspended participation in monitoring and implementation mechanisms of 2015 Algiers peace agreement with govt, citing “lack of political will on the part of the transitional authorities to implement” accord. Earlier in month, CMA had deplored peace deal’s “decay” and requested emergency meeting with Algerian-led International Mediation outside Mali to examine accord’s “viability”.
Rival jihadist groups engaged in intense fighting in north. In Gao region, clashes 3-10 Dec erupted between al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and Islamic State Sahel Province (IS-Sahel) militants near Tagarangabot, Tadjalalt and Haroum localities, leaving dozens dead. Also in Gao, JNIM 4 Dec reportedly killed around 16 ethnic Fulani or Dawsahak people near In Aoutel locality. In Timbuktu city (Timbuktu region), unidentified gunman 16 Dec fired at UN peacekeepers, leaving two dead.
Govt faced accusations of serious abuses against civilians in centre. Amid ongoing operations against JNIM in country’s centre, govt forces, along with Dan Na Ambassagou militia and Russian allies, reportedly carried out human rights abuses against civilians, including arbitrary killings. Notably, govt forces and Russian paramilitary Wagner Group 6 Dec conducted air and ground operation in Kita town (Mopti region); authorities claimed to have killed one jihadist and arrested eight others, while locals said operation left five civilians dead, three wounded, and nine others detained.
In other important developments. Choguel Maïga 4 Dec reinstated as PM after three-month absence following stroke. Transitional govt continued to tighten control of NGOs, issuing new reporting obligations 15 Dec after banning NGOs funded or supported by France in Nov. After Interim President Col. Goïta 22 Dec reportedly agreed with Ivorian delegation to release 46 Ivorian soldiers detained since July, court in Bamako 30 Dec sentenced detained soldiers to 20 years in prison on charges of undermining state security (see Côte d’Ivoire).
Violent conflict continued in north and centre, and UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) saw several troop contributors withdraw.
Rampant insecurity in north fuelled popular discontent. Main trade unions 8 Nov declared 48-hour general strike in Gao region to protest govt’s lack of response to growing insecurity; Algiers peace accord signatory group leader around same day called on young Tuaregs to join fight against Islamic State Sahel Province (IS-Sahel) in Gao. Meanwhile, deadly attacks continued across region. Notably, local officials 23 Nov reported jihadist attack on Kadji camp for internally displaced persons 21 Nov left 11 civilians dead. Encounters between IS-Sahel and rival al-Qaeda affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) reported around 12-13 Nov in Gao and Timbuktu regions; death toll unknown.
Violence involving jihadist militants and security forces continued in centre. Govt forces 1 Nov reportedly killed five JNIM militants near Pogo locality (Ségou region). JNIM militants 10 Nov killed three pro-govt militia fighters in Kargue village (Bandiagara region). MINUSMA convoy on its way to Timbuktu city 21 Nov hit mine near Douentza town in Mopti region, leaving three peacekeepers injured. Conflict took high civilian toll. Govt forces 12 Nov reportedly killed up to four civilians during operation in Birga-Peulh village, and 14 Nov allegedly killed four Fulani civilians near Derou village (both Mopti).
Key troop contributors announced withdrawal from MINUSMA. UK, Côte d’Ivoire and Germany 14-22 Nov announced withdrawal of their military contingents, leaving mission’s future uncertain. Meanwhile, MINUSMA 9 Nov reported govt forces 1 July-30 Sept committed 162 human rights abuses, 33% increase from 1 April - 30 June period; also noted limited ability to investigate abuses as MINUSMA personnel does not enjoy free movement. NGO International Federation for Human Rights 24 Nov warned that 2022 “will likely be the deadliest in Mali” since 2012, denounced impunity of those responsible for human right abuses.
In other important developments. After French govt 17 Nov suspended development assistance to Mali, citing presence of Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, Bamako 21 Nov banned French and French-funded NGOs from operating in country; number of NGOs subsequently suspended activity, including Doctors of the World-Belgium 22 Nov.
Jihadists pressed ahead with offensive in north, while govt forces and allies sustained counter-insurgency operations in centre; transitional authorities pushed ahead with plan to change constitution.
Islamic State Sahel Province clashed with rival as it consolidates control in north. In Ménaka region, local populations in Oct continued to flee from areas around regional capital Ménaka amid rumours that IS Sahel militants may seek to assault city. Also in Ménaka, IS Sahel and al-Qaeda Affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) late Oct reportedly engaged in intense fighting in Adéraboukane, Inchnane and Tamalate localities; local sources said JNIM had gained upper hand. IS Sahel continued to make progress in Ansongo district of Gao region, where ambush on military convoy near Fafa locality 1 Oct wounded six. In Kidal region, UN mission MINUSMA peacekeepers 17 Oct hit explosive device near Tessalit village, leaving four dead.
Fighting continued apace in centre as military tries to reconquer lost territories. Military 3-5 Oct killed 31 presumed JNIM militants and destroyed two of their bases in Niono district (Ségou region); 4-6 Oct arrested 50 presumed jihadists in Sofara town and Mopti city (both Mopti region). Also in Mopti, public bus 13 Oct hit explosive device between Bandiagara and Goundaga towns, killing 10; local officials 31 Oct claimed govt forces and private security company Wagner operatives previous day killed at least 13 civilians in Guelledjé locality, Ténenkou district.
Transitional authorities poised to change constitution and militarise police. Constitutional drafting commission 11 Oct submitted preliminary draft of new constitution to interim President Goïta, who wants to put new constitution to referendum in March 2023. Coalition gathering dozens of opposition parties in following days insisted drafting process should be handled by democratically elected civilian govt. Meanwhile, transitional legislative body late Oct passed law allowing police and civil protection services to play more active role in fight against jihadist groups while also depriving officers of their right to strike.
Govt continued to confront traditional security partners. At UN Security Council, FM Abdoulaye Diop 18 Oct again accused France of supporting jihadists and undermining Mali’s sovereignty; Paris immediately denounced “slander”. Negotiations for release of 46 Ivorian soldiers dragged on (see Côte d’Ivoire).
Interim govt sought allies in region as dispute with Côte d’Ivoire worsened and insecurity prevailed across large swathes of territory.Deadly jihadist violence remained rampant in centre and north. In centre, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 2 Sept killed between 13 and 15 civilians in Tiouga village (Ségou region). Media outlets including Radio France Internationale early Sept reported accusations of sexual violence, including rape on female villagers, after army, Russian paramilitary Wagner Group and Dozo hunters 4 Sept entered Nia-Ouro village (Mopti region); UN mission opened investigation into allegations. In north, Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) 6 Sept seized Talataye town (Gao region) after fighting with Algiers peace deal signatory armed group Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) and JNIM; clashes reportedly left 17 JNIM, three MSA fighters and 42 civilians dead and displaced 13,000 inhabitants; IS Sahel reportedly withdrew by 9 Sept. On Independence Day, hundreds 22 Sept marched in capital Bamako chanting anti-UN slogans and carrying Russian flags.Spat with Côte d’Ivoire worsened while tensions with France simmered. Govt 3 Sept released three of 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested 10 July. President Goïta 9 Sept conditioned release of remaining 46 to Ivorian authorities agreeing to extradite Malian officials associated with deposed President Keita. Côte d’Ivoire 14 Sept denounced “unacceptable blackmail”; West African regional bloc ECOWAS 29 Sept sent high-level delegation to Bamako to negotiate soldiers’ release; no breakthrough reported. Meanwhile, authorities 15 Sept briefly detained two French soldiers on accusations of spying; Interim PM Col. Abdoulaye Maïga 24 Sept at UN General Assembly accused France of violating Malian airspace to provide “information, weapons and ammunition to terrorist groups”.Military leaders sought support among neighbours. Interim President Col. Goïta 3 Sept met with Burkinabè counterpart Lt. Col. Damiba and 7 Sept with Guinea’s FM Morissanda Kouyaté in Bamako; Defence Minister Col. Sadio Camara 4-6 Sept visited Mauritania; all meetings reportedly focused on security cooperation. Interim PM Maïga 28 Sept said Mali will not respect sanctions ECOWAS imposed on Guinea’s ruling junta on 22 Sept.
Jihadists launched deadliest attack on military since 2019 and continued southward expansion; govt met with northern armed groups to discuss stalled implementation of 2015 peace accord; and relations with UN mission and France remained tense. Jihadist violence continued in north and centre. In north, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 7 Aug attacked Tessit town (Gao region), killing 42 soldiers in deadliest attack on military since 2019; 37 militants also killed. In Ménaka region, ISGS 7-8 Aug killed 20 Tuareg civilians near Tahabanat village, 12 Aug killed another 20 people in Assaylal village. In centre, suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 5 Aug killed 12 civilians in Bankass circle (Bandiagara region). In Sikasso region (south), suspected JNIM fighters 7 Aug killed five police officers and kidnapped at least one other in complex ambush involving explosive device near Karangana town. Amid stalled implementation of 2015 Algiers Peace Accord, govt 1-5 Aug met signatory groups’ leaders, announced agreement on number of ex-combatants to be integrated into regular forces; signatory alliance of rebel groups Coordination of Azawad Movements however citicised agreement’s lack of clarity regarding role of armed group leaders in future integrated units. Interim President Col. Goïta around 22 Aug appointed another colonel, Abdoulaye Maiga, to act as PM in absence of civilian PM Choguel Maïga. Tensions continued to run high with UN mission (MINUSMA) and France. Germany (largest Western troop provider to MINUSMA) 12 Aug announced suspension of its military mission in country after Bamako in July suspended MINUSMA troop rotations. Govt next day announced resumption of MINUSMA troop rotations under new procedures, prompting Germany to resume military flights to Mali on 18 Aug. Attorney general 14 Aug charged 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested in July – upon arrival to work for MINUSMA contractor – with “attempting to undermine state security” (see Côte d’Ivoire). In 15 Aug letter to UN Security Council, FM Abdoulaye Diop called for emergency UN Security Council meeting to stop French “acts of aggression”, including alleged espionage, and accused France of supporting jihadists; last soldiers belonging to French Operation Barkhane same day left country.
Jihadists extended operations further south from their stronghold in country’s centre, launching bold attacks near capital Bamako; West Africa’s regional bloc lifted economic and financial sanctions; and diplomatic spat erupted with Côte d’Ivoire. Jihadists struck targets just north of Bamako. Suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 14 July attacked Zantiguila security post (Koulikoro region), only 50km from Bamako, killing at least six. JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina 22 July launched sophisticated attack on Kati military base on outskirts of Bamako, leaving one soldier dead; govt forces repelled raid, killing at least seven assailants. Elsewhere, coordinated jihadist attacks on military targets near towns of Sévaré (Mopti region), Sokolo (Ségou region) and Kalumba (Koulikouro region) 27 July killed at least 15 troops and three civilians; military said 48 militants killed. Meanwhile, 2015 peace agreement signatory group Coordination of Azawad Movements 17 July decried “abandonment” of accord by transitional authorities, promoted “consolidation of unity” between signatory armed groups. After Bamako late June released electoral timetable scheduling presidential election for Feb 2024, West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS 3 July lifted economic and financial sanctions on Mali, only keeping individual and diplomatic sanctions in place; ECOWAS demanded that no member of transitional govt run as presidential candidate in 2024 election, amid persistent concern among Malian actors and outside observers over transitional President Col Goïta’s intentions. Supreme Court prosecutor 28 July issued international arrest warrant for ex-PM Boubou Cissé and several other ministers of deposed President Keïta, in likely attempt to prevent them from running in presidential election. Meanwhile, diplomatic incident soured Bamako’s relations with Côte d’Ivoire and confirmed junta’s reluctance to cooperate with UN mission MINUSMA going forward. Bamako 10 July arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers at Bamako airport, described them as “mercenaries” attempting to enter country without proper authorisation in order to foment unrest. Côte d’Ivoire’s govt 12 July denied claim, said soldiers were part of MINUSMA, and requested their “immediate” release. Bamako 20 July ordered MINUSMA Spokesperson Olivier Salgado to leave country within 72 hours over tweets about incident (see Côte d’Ivoire).
Rampant jihadist violence and counter-insurgency operations left hundreds killed, mostly in central regions; President Goïta announced two-year transition period before elections. In Bandiagara region (centre), al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM)-linked Katiba Macina 18-19 June killed 132 civilians in multiple attacks in Bankass district; military 11 June killed at least 13 JNIM militants including three commanders in air and ground operation near Makou town. In neighbouring Mopti region, JNIM-led siege of Boni town (Douentza district), which started 25 May, continued throughout month. Further west in Koulikoro region, military 6-8 June killed ten JNIM militants in Banamba district. In northern Gao region, JNIM ambush 2 June left 11 soldiers dead near Doro village, and suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 18 June killed at least 20 civilians in several hamlets of Anchawadj commune (both Gao district). French Barkhane forces 12 June arrested ISGS leader Oumeya Ould Albakaye in Ansongo district of Gao region. Further east in Ménaka region, govt forces joined 2015 peace agreement signatory groups to launch joint offensive to recapture strategic town of Andéramboukane from ISGS; clashes 4-5 June reportedly killed around 115, including 90 jihadists, but town remained under jihadist control. ISGS 12 June killed 22 people, including displaced persons, near Izingaz village (Tidermène district). West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS heads of state 4 June postponed decision on lifting sanctions on Mali to next summit on 3 July. Transitional President Col Goïta 6 June unilaterally set transition’s length at 24 months, starting 26 March 2022; ECOWAS 7 June “regretted” decision, said dialogue would continue. Govt 30 June adopted electoral calendar scheduling constitutional referendum for March 2023 and presidential election for Feb 2024. After UN mission MINUSMA late May accused govt forces of human rights abuses, UN Sec Gen António Guterres 1 June highlighted authorities’ diminishing control over territory and active hindering of MINUSMA activities. UN Security Council 29 June renewed mission’s mandate for another year, called for govt to allow free movement for peacekeepers to investigate human rights abuses; Russia, which campaigned against mission’s rights mandate, abstained.
Transitional authorities continued to break off ties with traditional allies, negotiations with regional bloc ECOWAS over transition duration remained stalled, and jihadist violence decreased slightly across country. After deteriorating relations with Paris late April took inflammatory turn, govt 2 May withdrew from defence agreements signed with France, including those regulating Barkhane and Takuba forces. Govt 15 May announced withdrawal from regional G5 Sahel organisation, stated other members blocked Bamako from assuming rotating presidency in Feb under pressure from “extra-regional” state. Amid uncertainty over UN mission MINUSMA’s future, including mission’s ability to operate in context of Bamako’s growing hostility and absent Barkhane support, UN Sec Gen António Guterres 6 May called for mission’s mandate renewal in June and Germany 11 May announced increase of its MINUSMA personnel by 300 elements. As negotiations with Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over transition duration remained stalled, Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé 4 May accepted Bamako’s request to facilitate negotiations with international community, including ECOWAS. Meanwhile, rapprochement with Russia continued. FM Abdoulaye Diop 20 May met in Russia’s capital Moscow with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who announced further political, economic and security cooperation with Mali. Transitional govt faced domestic discontent. Dozens 10 May demonstrated in capital Bamako against “dictatorial regime”; counter-protest 13 May drew thousands in capital in support of transitional authorities. Influential imam Mahmoud Dicko 26 May criticised interim authorities’ “arrogance”. Govt 16 May said it had foiled coup plot night of 11-12 May, blamed Western-supported military personnel; next day arrested several military officers, including at least one colonel. Violence slightly decreased across country. Army 9 May announced recent operations in Mopti, Koulikoro, Ségou and Sikasso regions killed at least 56 jihadists; mid-month reported killing dozens of suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and JNIM-affiliated Ansarul Islam militants in Mopti’s Douentza district. Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 14 May killed five members of 2015 Algiers peace agreement signatory group Imghad Tuareg Self-Defence Group and Allies (GATIA) in Anchawadi commune (Gao region). Unidentified assailants 19 May abducted three Italians and a Togolese in Sincina locality (Sikasso region in south).
Jihadist violence persisted in Mopti region amid national and international outcry over alleged “massacre” of hundreds of civilians at hands of govt and Russian forces; EU suspended in-country training missions. Army 1 April said military 23-31 March “neutralised” over 200 jihadists in major operation in Moura town (Djenné district) in central Mopti region. Several media and rights groups however accused govt forces and allies of “massacre”. Notably, NGO Human Rights Watch 5 April said army and foreign fighters, identified as Russians, late March “allegedly summarily executed” 300 civilian men in Moura town, urged “independent, credible inquiry”. UN envoy in Mali El-Ghassim Wane 7 April told Security Council military govt had denied request to grant UN mission investigators access to site; Bamako same day announced military tribunal would handle investigation. Meanwhile, violence continued in Mopti. Notably, explosive device attack by suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 19 April killed Russian paramilitary near Hombori village (Douentza district); in apparent retaliation, govt forces and Russian private military company Wagner Group elements same day reportedly stormed Hombori. Armed forces reported air strikes 14 April killed 12 militants, including Franco-Tunisian JNIM leader Samir Al-Bourhan, in Ganguel forest, and overnight 27-28 April killed 12 other combatants near Yirma village, both Djenné district. Simultaneous jihadist attacks 24 April also targeted military camps in Sévaré (Mopti region), Bapho and Niono towns (Ségou region), leaving six soldiers dead. JNIM 24 April claimed it had captured Wagner operatives during first week of April in central Ségou region. Junta continued to take increasingly harsh line on political opposition: authorities 4 April allegedly sought to arrest opposition leader Oumar Mariko after he publicly accused army of killing civilians in Moura. Amid rumours of govt reshuffle and internal conflicts within PM Choguel Maïga’s support base, Maïga 21 April presented transitional govt’s activities to legislative body National Transitional Council, emphasised 24-month transition timeline and praised army’s recent advances. Thousands 1 April demonstrated in capital Bamako against French presence and West African bloc ECOWAS’ sanctions. Following year-long tensions between Bamako and Brussels, EU 11 April announced full suspension of EUCAP and EUTM missions in Mali.
Violent clashes opposed jihadists and 2015 peace agreement signatory groups in north east, reportedly leaving hundreds dead; military suffered deadliest jihadist attack in months. In north east near border with Niger, fighting resumed between Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and 2015 peace agreement signatory groups – Movement for the Salvation of Azawad, and Tuareg Imghad and Allied Self-Defence Group – in Tamalat, Inchinane and Anderamboukane (Ménaka region) and Talataye (Gao region) areas; violence throughout month reportedly killed hundreds including civilians. In Mopti region (centre), suspected jihadist group 4 March launched deadliest attack on military in months, killing at least 27 soldiers at army base in Mondoro town near Burkina Faso’s border; army said troops killed 70 militants in response. UN mission (MINUSMA) convoy 7 March detonated explosive device north of Mopti city; two peacekeepers killed. Alleged ISGS militants 21 March launched twin attacks on military in Tessit (Gao region) and Boni (Mopti region) towns; army reported 16 soldiers and 13 assailants killed. Meanwhile, authorities faced new allegations of extrajudicial killings. Residents of Ségou region (centre) 3 March discovered at least 35 bodies, including some with holes in their heads, near Diabaly town; UN mission 4 March launched investigation into killings; army next day denied allegations of involvement. NGO Human Rights Watch 15 March alleged govt forces had killed at least 71 civilians in central and south-western Mali since Dec, condemned “new wave of executions of civilians” and urged independent inquiries. UN expert on Mali 29 March also raised concerns at UN Human Rights Council about “serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law” attributed to Malian forces. In unprecedented clampdown on foreign media, govt 17 March suspended broadcasts by French news outlets RFI and France24, accusing them of relaying false allegations of army exactions. West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS’s envoy for Mali, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, 18-20 March travelled to capital Bamako to discuss return to constitutional order with transition authorities; Interim President Goïta reportedly proposed 24-month timetable; ECOWAS 25 March upheld sanctions on Mali and asked transition authorities to stage elections within 12-16 months.
France and European partners announced troop withdrawal amid heightened tensions with Bamako, while jihadist violence persisted. France and allied European countries 17 Feb announced full withdrawal of French Barkhane and European Takuba forces from Mali within six months. Transitional authorities next day denounced “unilateral” decision in breach of bilateral agreements, asked France and European countries to pull out forces “without delay”; French President Macron immediately rejected request, demanded “respect”, saying “France has been, equipping, training” Malian army for nine years. Transition’s trajectory stoked domestic tensions. Main political and civil society umbrella group Cadre d’échange des partis politiques pour une transition réussie 9 Feb announced it would no longer recognise transitional authorities beyond 25 March – end of initially agreed 18-month transition; coalition also warned it would reject transition charter’s revision. Legislative body National Transitional Council 21 Feb however approved amendment to transition’s charter extending transition period for up to five years. Meanwhile, EU 4 Feb imposed travel bans and asset freezes on five prominent members of transitional govt including PM Choguel Maïga. West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS delegation 25 Feb left Bamako after inconclusive talks with military junta over transition’s duration. Violence continued notably in Gao region’s Ansongo district; joint operation between Takuba task force and Malian army 1-6 Feb reportedly killed 30 Islamist militants in Indelimane area; Takuba 9-13 Feb also killed eight suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) combatants in Inchakamak area; Malian army 18 Feb said it had killed 57 jihadists and lost eight soldiers in Tessit area. Meanwhile, ISGS militants 13-15 Feb killed about 40 civilians in several villages of Ansongo district. Amid recent influx of ISGS fighters from neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso, clashes continued between al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and ISGS. Notably, fighting 5-6 Feb left at least ten ISGS combatants dead in Ansongo district. Amid ongoing accusations of army abuses against civilians, reports emerged of army airstrike killing 13 civilians in Ségou region’s Niono district 7 Feb.
Regional bloc ECOWAS imposed new economic sanctions after interim authorities announced five-year transition; Russian mercenaries reportedly deployed across country. Interim authorities 1 Jan presented five-year transition timeline to West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS; revised timeline includes constitutional referendum in Jan 2024, legislative elections in Nov 2025 and presidential elections by Dec 2026. Coalition of 100 political parties and 60 civil society groups next day condemned “attempt to confiscate power by force and trickery” and called on military to respect Sept 2020 transition charter. ECOWAS 9 Jan imposed sweeping economic sanctions and announced closure of borders between ECOWAS member states and Mali. China and Russia 11 Jan at UN Security Council blocked French-drafted statement endorsing sanctions. Tens of thousands 14 Jan protested across country in support of junta, chanting anti-ECOWAS and anti-French slogans. On state TV, PM Choguel Maïga next day strongly condemned sanctions but stressed authorities keen to pursue dialogue with ECOWAS. Junta 26 Jan called on Denmark to immediately withdraw its troops from European Task Force Takuba, saying country lacked permission to deploy its 90 soldiers; Denmark next day denied claim but confirmed it would pull out troops. After French FM Le Drian 28 Jan said junta was “out of control”, Bamako 31 Jan gave French ambassador 72 hours to leave country. Meanwhile, reports of deployment of operatives from Russian private military company Wagner Group kept emerging. French newspaper Le Monde 6 Jan and head of U.S. Africa Command Gen Stephen Townsend 20 Jan alleged presence, notably in central regions, of hundreds of Russian mercenaries. Violence continued in Mopti region (centre), where clashes between army, reportedly joined by Wagner operatives, and al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims-affiliated Katiba Macina 3 Jan reportedly left several militants and soldiers killed and one Wagner element injured in Bandiagara area. Mortar attack 22 Jan killed French soldier in Gao region (north east). Soldiers faced accusations of exactions in southern Koulikoro region’s Nara district, including killing between 18 and 31 ethnic Fulani and Soninke civilians in Boudjiguire village 31 Dec and another two people in neighbouring Guiré village 3 Jan.
Interim authorities launched national consultations despite widespread contestation; high-level violence persisted in central Mopti region. Authorities 11 Dec started series of consultations on political, institutional and governance reforms at local and regional levels, and 27-30 Dec at national level; many opposition parties and civil society groups refused to join initiative, citing fears junta could use it to extend transition period; Permanent Strategic Framework gathering armed group signatories to 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement 10 Dec also said they would boycott process on account of lack of preliminary consultations. West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS 12 Dec threatened new sanctions in Jan should interim authorities fail to show concrete actions by month’s end to organise elections in Feb. At end of consultations, participants 30 Dec proposed to extend transition for period of “six months to five years”. Junta continued clampdown on critics; notably, authorities 6 Dec arrested opposition party leader Oumar Mariko for allegedly insulting interim PM Choguel Maïga. NGO Human Rights Watch 15 Dec claimed security agents in Sept-Oct 2021 tortured six individuals accused of plotting coup against interim govt. In Mopti region (centre), suspected al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM)-affiliated Katiba Macina 3 Dec ambushed public bus near Songho village, killing 32 civilians; clashes between Katiba Macina militants and ethnic Dogon militia Dana Ambassagou 7 Dec left ten militiamen dead near Baima village; explosive device next day killed seven UN peacekeepers in Bandiagara area. Civil disobedience movement urging govt to step up efforts against jihadists 7-8 Dec paralysed public services in Mopti’s Bandiagara city. In Gao region (north), unidentified gunmen 3 Dec attacked UN mission (MINUSMA) convoy 100km north east of Bourem town, killing civilian; overnight 5-6 Dec killed seven members of High Council for Azawad Unity in Intahaka village. EU 13 Dec imposed sanctions on Russian private military company Wagner Group for allegedly committing serious human rights abuses in several countries, including torture and extrajudicial executions. Fourteen European countries and Canada 23 Dec jointly condemned alleged deployment of Wagner mercenaries to Mali, accused Russia of supporting it; Bamako next day denied claims.
West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS sanctioned transition officials over delayed elections; jihadist violence continued in centre and north. ECOWAS 7 Nov imposed sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes on 149 state officials, after interim President Assimi Goïta day before confirmed Feb 2022 election deadline would not be met; sanctioned individuals include PM Choguel Maïga, several ministers and all members of interim legislative body, but ECOWAS spared Goïta and FM Abdoulaye Diop in apparent attempt to keep communication line open. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 15 Nov said EU member states had agreed on imposing sanctions on “those obstructing” Mali’s transition. Tensions also increased between interim govt and opposition over duration of transition. Parti pour la renaissance nationale (PARENA) 4 Nov urged authorities to cancel series of consultations on political and institutional reforms, initially scheduled for 20-26 Dec, amid concern junta might use them to extend transition period; govt 23 Nov postponed consultations, citing need to find “broadest possible consensus”, and Goïta 29 Nov received political party leaders, urged them to participate. Authorities 5 Nov announced arrest in recent months of six people for allegedly plotting coup, including two who served under deposed President Bah N’Daw; series of arrests could signal radicalisation of interim authorities. Meanwhile, security situation remained precarious in Gao region (north); notably, clashes 4-5 Nov erupted between Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) in Ansongo district, leaving at least ten ISGS and five JNIM combatants dead. In Mopti region (centre), JNIM 6 Nov ambushed special forces in Djenné district, killing at least one soldier. Also in Mopti, unidentified gunmen 24 Nov killed at least three civilians in Bandiagara town. In Ségou region (centre), JNIM militants 8 Nov ambushed and killed seven Bambara communal “Donso” militiamen in Ségou district. In Koulikoro region (west), suspected jihadists 14 Nov attacked Guiré army post, reportedly killing seven soldiers. Meanwhile, FM Diop 10-12 Nov visited Russia at invitation of Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov; leaders pledged to intensify military cooperation but denied deployment in Mali of Russian private military company Wagner Group.
Jihadist violence escalated further, notably in centre, with dozens of “Donso” militiamen killed; tensions ran high with international partners including over transition roadmap. In Mopti region, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 6 Oct killed at least 16 soldiers in complex ambush involving explosive device in Bandiagara district; military claimed at least 15 militants also killed. JNIM militants and Bambara “Donso” militiamen 20 Oct clashed in Mopti’s Djenné district; at least 50 Donsos reportedly killed, 80 wounded and one captured. In neighbouring Ségou region, JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina 6 Oct clashed with Donsos in Niono district, allegedly killing at least 28. Suspected jihadists also kept up attacks in northern regions. Notably, explosive device 2 Oct killed UN peacekeeper in Kidal region’s Tessalit district. Unidentified gunmen 6 Oct killed two civilians in Diré district, Timbuktu region. Presumed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 14 Oct killed two police and one civilian in Ansongo district, Gao region. Govt and French forces also accused of abuses against civilians. In Mopti’s Djenné district, military 5 Oct reportedly killed at least three ethnic Fulanis and tortured local imam; French Operation Barkhane 18 Oct allegedly killed unarmed woman in Timbuktu’s Gossi area. Meanwhile, French troops in coordination with U.S. and Malian forces 7 Oct killed JNIM-affiliated Ansarul Islam commander Oumarou Mobo Modhi in Mopti region. Barkhane airstrike 16 Oct killed JNIM-linked jihadist group Katiba Serma leader Nasser al-Tergui at border between Timbuktu and Mopti regions. During visit to Bamako, chair of regional body ECOWAS, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, 17 Oct urged interim President Goïta to uphold junta’s commitment to hold elections by Feb 2022. Interim authorities 24 Oct however said they would confirm election date after national consultations in Dec, and next day expelled ECOWAS envoy over “actions incompatible with his status”. Relations with France continued to deteriorate. Bamako 5 Oct summoned French ambassador to Mali to express “indignation and disapproval” after French President Macron earlier same day said French army will not “fill in for the non-work…of the Malian state”.
West Africa regional bloc imposed sanctions to encourage return to civilian rule, but PM said general elections could be delayed; reports of Russian mercenary deal alarmed France, while security situation remained fragile. Economic Community of West African States 7 Sept denounced “lack of concrete actions” to prepare presidential and legislative elections set for Feb 2022 and 16 Sept imposed sanctions on those slowing down transition. PM Choguel Maïga 26 Sept stated potential need to postpone polls to avoid their validity being contested. News agency Reuters 13 Sept revealed authorities close to striking deal with Russian private military company Wagner Group to hire at least 1,000 mercenaries. French govt next day said allowing Russian mercenaries into Mali would be “incompatible” with continued French presence. Thousands 22 Sept reportedly marched in capital Bamako in support of Russia deal. After Maïga 25 Sept accused France of “abandoning” country with its June decision to draw down troops, French govt 27 Sept rejected “indecent” accusations. Security situation remained precarious in centre. In Ségou region, presumed Katiba Macina militants, a sub-group of al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), 12 Sept ambushed army patrol in Macina district, killing at least five soldiers. Truce agreed in April 2021 between Katiba Macina and Bambara communal “Donso” militias in Ségou’s Niono district continued to unravel; clashes 2 Sept left one Donso dead in Molodo village, while Katiba Macina 4 Sept reportedly stormed Songo village, killing two residents. French President Macron 16 Sept said Barkhane mid-Aug had killed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui in tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. In Koulikoro region (west), unidentified gunmen 11 Sept killed two Moroccan nationals in Djidiéni town (Kolokani district). In Sikasso region (south), unidentified gunmen 14 Sept attacked army post in Mahou village (Yorosso district), two soldiers and two assailants killed. Authorities 3 Sept detained Special Forces Commander Oumar Samaké for allegedly repressing protests under former President Keïta; armed police same day protested and obtained release of Samaké, who 6 Sept turned himself in after reportedly obtaining fair trial guarantees.
Violence in north and centre showed jihadist groups’ sustained capacity to inflict considerable damage; govt’s action plan sparked concern over transition timeline. In Gao region (north), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 8 Aug simultaneously raided several villages in Ansongo district, killing at least 51 civilians, mostly women and children. In Ménaka region (east), explosive device 15 Aug killed three Malian soldiers near Ménaka airport. In Mopti region (centre), suspected al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM)-affiliated Katiba Macina militants 11 Aug clashed with Bambara “Donso” militiamen in Ténenkou district, leaving at least five Donso dead. Also in Mopti, unidentified gunmen 19 Aug ambushed army convoy on Nokora-Boni axis, Douentza district, killing at least 15 soldiers. In Ségou region (also centre), six villagers died due to lack of medical care after alleged Katiba Macina militants 3 July imposed blockade around Songo village in Niono district; situation could jeopardise truce agreed between Katiba Macina and Donso in Niono district in April 2021. National Transitional Council (CNT) 2 Aug adopted interim govt’s action plan for 2021-2022; priorities include improving security situation, carrying out political and institutional reforms, organising “transparent, credible, and inclusive” presidential and legislative elections in Feb-March 2022 and adopting social stability pact; some CNT members voiced concerns plan might be too ambitious given tight implementation timeframe, while several political parties including former President Keïta’s Rally for Mali expressed fear that plan could provide alibi for extension of transition period. Authorities 25 Aug arrested former PM Boubeye Maïga and former Economy Minister Bouaré Fily Sissoko over corruption and other allegations. Transition monitoring committee next day announced release of former Interim President Bah N’Daw and PM Moctar Ouane, who had been under house arrest since Assimi Goïta’s second coup in May.
Interim President Goïta survived apparent assassination attempt, while security situation remained fragile in north and centre. Armed individual 20 July reportedly attempted to stab Goïta in capital Bamako; authorities 21 July said they had opened probe into attack, 25 July said main suspect had died in custody; National Commission for Human Rights 26 July called for investigation into his death. Meanwhile, PM Choguel Maïga 8 July said govt would establish single election body ahead of presidential and legislative elections scheduled for Feb 2022; opposition politician Amadou Diallo and others immediately voiced concern that junta may use reform as pretext to prolong transition. Maïga 30 July presented interim govt’s action plan, said he was mindful of “fixed timeline for the transition”. Main signatories of 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement, rival armed groups Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and Platform coalition 3-5 July gathered in Kidal city (north), vowed to accelerate agreement’s implementation, coordinate and unify efforts to protect northern regions’ populations. Security situation remained fragile in north and centre. In Timbuktu region (north), presumed al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM)-affiliated Katiba Macina 4 July killed four soldiers in ambush near Diartou village (Niafunke district). In Mopti region (centre), suspected Katiba Macina militants 5 July attacked ethnic Dogon militia Dana Ambassagou’s position between Dourou and Yawa villages (Bandiagara district), killing six. In Ségou region (also centre), presumed Katiba Macina militants 3 July killed three ethnic Bambaras in Kourouma Koubé village, jeopardising local truce struck in April with Bambara “Donso” militiamen. In Koulikoro region (west), unidentified gunmen 17 July raided construction site, abducted three Chinese and two Mauritanian nationals. France 2 July announced resumption of joint military operations with Mali, suspended following Goïta’s coup in May. During G5 Sahel summit, French President Macron 9 July detailed reconfiguration of French military presence in Sahel, said he would halve number of soldiers and close three military bases in Mali’s north by early 2022. Civil society actors immediately expressed concern, citing risk of jihadist takeover of key towns. UN Sec-Gen Guterres 15 July called on Security Council to increase UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)’s authorised strength by 2,069.
New transition president appointed PM and govt while army retained major influence over institutions; violence continued in north and centre. Following May military coup, Assimi Goïta formally sworn in as transition president 7 June. Goïta same day appointed opposition leader and former Minister Choguel Maiga as PM; 11 June nominated new govt comprising 28 members, including military officers retaining strategic ministries of defence, security and national reconciliation. Maiga 13 June held first Council of Ministers in capital Bamako, setting ambitious roadmap including elections to return civilians to power in Feb 2022. Main trade union National Workers’ Union of Mali 15 June threatened to resume protests if govt fails to adjust wage grids and harmonise benefits for public workers within next ten days. In response to coup, African Union 2 June suspended Mali’s membership, while Economic Community of West African States 19 June maintained Mali’s suspension. France 3 June said it would temporarily suspend joint military operations with Malian troops and 10 June announced end of Barkhane operation in Sahel. World Bank 4 June said it had temporarily paused payments to country. Meanwhile, jihadist violence continued in north and centre. Notably, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) 1 June claimed killing five civilians on road between Gao city and Niger’s capital Niamey, and 3 June killed at least 11 people in Inkinbabane area, Ménaka region (north east). Car bomb attacks 21 June injured six French soldiers and four civilians in Gossi town, southern Timbuktu region (north), and 25 June injured 13 UN peacekeepers in Gao region (north). Jihadists same day attacked military outpost in Boni village, Mopti region (centre), killing at least six soldiers. Counter-insurgency operations continued. In Kidal region (north), French forces 5 June conducted operation near Aguelhok town in Tessalit district, killing presumed al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims militants, including senior commander Baye Ag Bakabo. Joint French-Nigerien operations in tri-border area between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso dealt severe blow to ISGS, notably capturing ISGS figure Dadi Ould Chouaïb alias “Abu Dardar” 11 June. UN Security Council 29 June renewed UN mission (MINUSMA) until June 2022.
Amid rising social discontent, military junta staged another coup; jihadist violence persisted in north and centre. Following series of strikes paralysing country, PM Ouane 14 May offered resignation to President N’Daw, who immediately reappointed him to form more inclusive cabinet. After interim govt 24 May appointed new cabinet ministers, military junta immediately arrested N’Daw and Ouane. Colonel Assimi Goïta, transition’s VP, next day announced that N’Daw and Ouane had violated transition’s charter by appointing new cabinet without consulting him and would be stripped of their powers; N’Daw and Ouane next day resigned. Goïta 27 May declared himself country’s transitional president and authorities released N’Daw and Ouane; Constitutional Court next day declared Goïta as interim president. Mali’s main international partners, including regional bloc ECOWAS, AU, EU, France and U.S., condemned junta’s action, while France and U.S. said they would consider sanctions; UN Security Council 26 May unanimously issued condemnation but stopped short of referring to “coup d’état” or including coercive measures; ECOWAS 30 May suspended Mali’s membership but did not impose new sanctions as it did after last year’s coup, instead called for civilian PM, respect of transition’s deadline and formation of inclusive govt. Meanwhile, in north, suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 2 May amputated hands and feet of three alleged robbers in Ansongo district, Gao region, nearly first time jihadists used such punishment since 2012 to apply Sharia law; move apparently aimed at bolstering group’s legitimacy as effective security alternative to state authorities. Few days later, al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 5 May released video of French journalist kidnapped 8 April near Gao city, urging French authorities to secure his release. In Kidal region (north), truck carrying gold miners 8 May struck IED near Tessalit district, killing two; truck 19 May struck IED on road to Ntillit village, Gao district, killing 16. In Mopti region (centre), presumed JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina militants 4 May attacked Ndobougou and Kounti-Marka villages, Djenné district, killing three. Also in Mopti, Malian army vehicle 7 May struck IED, which JNIM reportedly planted, in Douentza district, killing three soldiers.
Jihadist violence continued unabated in centre and north, and interim authorities announced electoral calendar. In Mopti region (centre), suspected al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 2 and 6 April raided military positions in Diafarabé and Konna towns, leaving at least four soldiers dead and 21 injured; armed forces reportedly killed 22 militants. JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina and Bambara communal “Donso” militiamen clashed throughout month in Mopti’s Djenné district, leaving dozens dead on both sides. In Ségou region (also centre), Katiba Macina and Donso militia 16 April announced permanent ceasefire in Niono district; deal builds on March temporary ceasefire that ended five-month jihadist siege on Farabougou village and has significantly reduced tensions in Niono. Also in Niono, Malian and French armed forces 26 April launched airstrikes in Alatona area, reportedly killing 26 suspected jihadists. In Kidal region (north), JNIM 2 April launched sophisticated attack on UN mission (MINUSMA) base in Aguelhok town, Tessalit district, killing four peacekeepers and wounding 16; over 40 assailants also killed; suspected jihadists 25 April launched rocket attack on military base in Tessalit town, wounding three MINUSMA peacekeepers. Meanwhile, Chadian troops deployed since March as part of G5 Sahel force started to engage insurgents in Gao region (also north), killing at least 20 Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants in Fitili and Tin Ajer areas (both Ansongo district) 3-4 April. NGO Human Rights Watch 20 April said Malian soldiers had killed 34 civilians and disappeared at least 16 people during counter-insurgency operations in Mopti region between Oct and March. Unidentified gunmen 13 April shot dead Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati, leader of ex-rebel Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) – signatory to 2015 Algiers peace agreement – in capital Bamako. Interim govt 15 April disclosed electoral agenda in line with transition timeline, scheduling constitutional referendum for Oct, and presidential and parliamentary elections for Feb 2022.
Jihadists launched deadly attack on govt forces and temporarily lifted months-long siege of Farabougou village in centre, while French forces accused of killing civilians. In Gao region (north), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 15 March ambushed army patrol near Tessit town, Ansongo district, killing at least 33 in deadliest attack on security forces in months. In Mopti region (centre), suspected al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 4 March attacked army position in Dinangorou village, Koro district; one soldier and eight militants reportedly killed. Also in Mopti, govt troops 1-3 March allegedly killed six ethnic Fulani civilians in Douentza and Youwarou districts. National reconciliation minister, Col-Maj Ismaël Wagué, 9 March met with Youssouf Toloba, leader of prominent ethnic Dogon self-defence group Dana Ambassagou to discuss intercommunal tensions and fight against jihadists in Mopti region; move comes after group late Feb refused to sign Fulani-Dogon peace agreement in Koro district. In neighbouring Ségou region, JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina and Bambara communal “Donso” militias 15 March reached ceasefire agreement; jihadists agreed to lift months-long siege of Farabougou village, Niono district, for one month. French Operation Barkhane faced new accusations of killing civilians. Local officials 26 March said Barkhane airstrike previous day had killed at least five civilians in Indelimane area, Gao region; Barkhane immediately denied allegation. UN mission (MINUSMA) investigation 30 March concluded Barkhane airstrike near Bounti village in Mopti region in Jan had killed 19 civilians. Interim legislative body National Transitional Council VP Issa Kaou Djim 6 March called on transition’s VP Colonel Assimi Goïta to contest next presidential election despite transition’s charter barring interim leaders from doing so. Influential cleric Mahmoud Dicko next day criticised interim govt’s handling of transition. Bamako Court of Appeals 2 March dismissed charges of “plot against the state” against five politicians, including former PM Boubou Cissé, arrested in Dec 2020 for allegedly planning to “destabilise” transitional govt; attorney general same day appealed decision to Supreme Court. Mauritanian diplomat El-Ghassim Wane appointed new MINUSMA head 15 March.
Tensions remained high between interim authorities, on one hand, and opposition and civil society, on the other, while jihadist violence continued in centre. Coalition of opposition and civil society groups (M5-RFP) 4 Feb condemned govt’s alleged “convergence of interests” with previous regime and 1 Feb dissolution of electoral commission (CENI); govt said CENI members’ mandate had come to an end, but M5-RFP feared dissolution may be part of strategy to influence course of 2022 presidential election. Acting PM Moctar Ouane 15 Feb met with political parties to discuss institutional reforms and 2022 elections; 19 Feb unveiled govt’s national action plan, including commitment to press ahead with elections and openness to dialogue with jihadists; National Transitional Council 22 Feb approved plan. In central Mopti region’s Douentza circle, jihadists continued to launch deadly attacks on national and international forces: al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) combatants 3 Feb killed nine soldiers in attack on Boni army base, prompting retaliatory French airstrikes that killed 20 militants; suspected JNIM fighters 10 Feb raided UN mission (MINUSMA) camp near Kerena village, killing one UN peacekeeper and wounding 27 more. Elsewhere in Mopti, suspected jihadists 17-18 Feb killed at least nine people in Bandiagara circle; suspected JNIM combatants 25 Feb attacked Dialloubé military outpost, Mopti circle, and gendarmerie post in Bandiagara circle, killing nine gendarmes, and 28 Feb stormed three Dogon villages in Bandiagara and Bankass circles, killing nine people. In Timbuktu region (north),French drone strike 1 Feb reportedly killed 15 JNIM-affiliated Ansarul Islam combatants in Gourma-Rharous circle. Further east in Kidal region, Algiers peace accord follow-up committee 11 Feb met in Kidal city for first time since 2015; attendees – including ex-rebel Coalition of Azawad Movements and govt representatives – discussed demobilisation and reintegration of former rebels into army. G5 Sahel summit 15-16 Feb held in Chad’s capital N’Djamena; French President Macron announced France would not downsize military forces in Sahel until at least mid-2022, called for “civilian surge” to complement military efforts, and continued to oppose dialogue with jihadist leaders.
Amid jihadist attacks against military and international forces, French counter-insurgency operation sparked public outcry. Jihadists launched series of deadly attacks on international forces. In Ménaka region (east), roadside bomb planted by suspected al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 2 Jan killed two French soldiers and wounded another in Tabangout area. In Mopti region’s Douentza circle (centre), suicide bomber from JNIM-linked jihadist group Katiba Serma 8 Jan wounded six French troops in Isey village; IED 21 Jan killed three soldiers in Mondoro area; military overnight 23-24 Jan repelled “complex and simultaneous” jihadist attacks on Boulkessi and Mondoro military bases, six soldiers and around 30 assailants killed. In Timbuktu region (north), suspected JNIM or Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 13 Jan ambushed UN mission (MINUSMA) patrol near Bambara-Maoudé town; four peacekeepers killed and five more wounded. Meanwhile, counter-insurgency operations continued. In Mopti’s Douentza circle, French Operation Barkhane-led airstrikes 2 Jan reportedly killed 15 JNIM fighters in Gassa-Douni locality, and French airstrike next day reportedly killed at least 19 people in Bounti village. French military 5 Jan said 3 Jan airstrike targeted jihadists, while local Fulani advocacy group Tabital Pulaaku next day claimed strike killed civilians during wedding ceremony; NGO Human Rights Watch 21 Jan urged Malian and French govts to launch investigation into incident. Protestors 20 Jan took to streets in capital Bamako against France’s military presence in country; security forces fired tear gas to disperse gathering, which authorities had banned citing COVID-19. In Kidal region in north east, delegations of ex-rebel Coalition of Azawad Movements and leaders of pro-govt Platform coalition’s two branches 8 Jan signed agreement establishing joint management of Aguelhok town following tensions between Tuaregs and Arabs in area. West Africa's regional bloc ECOWAS 12 Jan praised establishment of transition’s main organs, called for “credible and transparent elections” in 2022 and dissolution of National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), governing body of military junta which toppled former President Keïta in 2020. Govt 18 Jan disbanded CNSP.
Violence continued unabated in centre, infighting between rival jihadist groups persisted in north, and tensions surrounded formation of interim legislative body. Jihadist and intercommunal violence continued in centre. Jihadist group Katiba Macina 9 Dec attacked Dogon militia Dana Ambassagou in Songho area, Mopti region, killing five militiamen. Explosive device 28 Dec killed three French soldiers in Hombori area, also Mopti region; al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) later claimed responsibility. In neighbouring Ségou region, High Islamic Council early Dec led mediation between jihadists and ethnic Bambara hunters around Farabougou village, which has been under jihadist siege since Oct; jihadists insisted on Bambara hunters’ disarmament and compliance with Sharia law; EU Commission 2 Dec reported conflict around Farabougou had displaced around 17,000 people. In northern Timbuktu region, infighting between JNIM and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) 12 Dec left at least 15 ISGS and five JNIM combatants dead near N’Daki village. Also in north, airstrikes by French Operation Barkhane 1 Dec killed unspecified number of JNIM combatants on Ansongo-Ménaka axis, and 10 Dec reportedly killed six JNIM militants in Diay area, Timbuktu region. Interim govt 3 Dec published list of 121 members of newly formed legislative body National Transitional Council (CNT). Coalition of opposition and civil society groups (M5-RFP) next day announced boycott of CNT over lack of power sharing, said interim govt violated constitution and transition charter by unilaterally appointing members instead of letting political parties and social groupings select their representatives; some actors however supported and joined CNT, including members of M5-RFP and former PM Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga. CNT 5 Dec elected Colonel Malick Diaw, VP of military junta’s governing body, as CNT president. Public prosecutor’s office 31 Dec reportedly charged six public figures, including former PM Boubou Cissé, with “coup attempt” over reported allegations that they plotted to “destabilise” transitional institutions. Main opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé 25 Dec died of COVID-19 in France; Cissé was released in Oct after being held hostage for six months by jihadist militants.
Interim authorities faced growing opposition while inter-communal violence and jihadist activity continued in centre. Rifts widened between military junta’s governing body, National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), on one hand, and political parties, civil society and trade unions, on the other, over perceived lack of power sharing. President Bah N’Daw 9 Nov issued decrees on formation of interim legislative body National Transitional Council (CNT), giving VP and CNSP leader Assimi Goïta authority to appoint CNT members and outlining allocation of 121 seats to different forces, among which CNSP will be best represented with 22 seats. Coalition of opposition and civil society groups M5-RFP, which led uprising against former President Keïta, 11 Nov said “unacceptable” decrees revealed transition’s “purely military” nature; former PM Moussa Mara’s Yelema party, along with other political forces, same day said they would boycott CNT. Govt 25 Nov appointed senior military figures as governors of several regions, bringing total of regions governed by military or police officers to 13 of 20. Meanwhile, inter-communal violence erupted in Ségou region in centre after suspected jihadists stormed Farabougou village in Oct. Ethnic Bambara 31 Oct-2 Nov clashed with suspected jihadists and ethnic Fulani in several villages around Farabougou; at least four dead, including one soldier. Jihadist and inter-communal violence continued in neighbouring Mopti region. Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 3 Nov attacked bus on Parou-Songobia axis, Bandiagara district, killing eight. Dogon militiamen 12 Nov killed three Fulani in ambush near Mandio locality, Mopti district. Unidentified assailants 23-24 Nov attacked Minimakanda village, Bankass district, killing at least four in apparent retaliation for jihadist attacks there in Oct. Meanwhile, also in Mopti, French Operation Barkhane reportedly killed 50 Ansarul Islam-affiliated insurgents in Pogol-N’Daki area, Douentza district 30 Oct-1 Nov and 30 other suspected jihadists in Niaki area, Koro district 12 Nov. French govt 13 Nov said ground and air operation 10 Nov killed senior JNIM commander Bah ag Moussa in Ménaka region in east. JNIM 30 Nov claimed series of rocket attacks upon French military outposts in Gao, Kidal (both north) and Ménaka regions same day.
Military junta secured international support following conciliatory moves, while jihadist attacks continued unabated in centre and north. Junta’s governing body, National Council for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), 1 Oct published transitional charter with major amendment to prerogatives of VP, junta leader Colonel Assimi Goïta, as required by regional body ECOWAS. Interim President N’Daw 4 Oct appointed 25-member govt, awarding four key portfolios to military officials. Coalition of opposition and civil society groups M5-RFP 6 Oct said it was not represented in govt despite its “key role in toppling former President Keïta”, called on supporters to remain mobilised. Meanwhile, ECOWAS same day lifted post-coup commercial and financial sanctions on Mali, called on interim govt to dissolve CNSP and release 12 individuals arrested during coup; govt 8 Oct announced their release. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 16 Oct expressed support for transition, and EU same day announced resumption of its training and capacity-building activities in Mali. Interim govt 8 Oct announced release of four hostages detained by jihadist Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM), including opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé; in exchange, govt reportedly released 200 prisoners, including high-profile JNIM figures. Meanwhile, jihadist attacks continued unabated in centre and north. In central Mopti region, suspected jihadists 6 Oct attacked military outpost near Koro town, killing three. JNIM 13 Oct attacked military base in Sokoura town, killing at least nine soldiers; later same day killed at least two soldiers and 12 civilians in two separate attacks on Bandiagara-Bankass axis. Amid counter-insurgency operations in Bankass and Koro areas, local NGO accused army of killing 15 Fulani civilians in Libbé village in Bankass area 22 Oct. In neighbouring Ségou region, suspected jihadists 6 Oct abducted around 20 civilians in Farabougou village, few days later killed five others. In north, suspected jihadists 1 Oct attacked police patrol in Timbuktu city, killing two; MINUSMA vehicle 9 Oct hit explosive device in Kidal region, three peacekeepers injured; JNIM later claimed attack. Ethnic Songhai and Arab communities mid-Oct clashed in Timbuktu city, death toll unknown; clashes erupted after suspected robbers 10 Oct killed Songhai individual.
Military junta which toppled President Keïta took steps to keep firm control over transition, while violence persisted in centre and north. Junta's governing body National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) early Sept held talks with opposition and civil society groups including M5-RFP coalition in capital Bamako; tensions surrounded talks, with M5-RFP accusing CNSP of sidelining movement. CNSP 12 Sept announced 18-month transition before return to civilian rule and unveiled transition charter, which M5-RFP rejected, arguing some of its key provisions, notably possibility to appoint soldier as transition president, did not reflect discussions. Regional body Economic Community of West African States 7 Sept issued ultimatum to appoint civilian transition leaders by 15 Sept, later pushing deadline to 22 Sept. Junta 21 Sept appointed retired General Bah N’Daw as transition president and Colonel Assimi Goïta, head of the CNSP, as VP. N’Daw 27 Sept appointed former FM Moctar Ouane as PM. Meanwhile, jihadist and communal violence persisted in centre and north. In centre, suspected jihadists overnight 3-4 Sept ambushed army convoy in Nara area, Koulikoro region, killing ten soldiers. Unidentified assailants 9 Sept killed four soldiers in Alatona area near Niono town, Ségou region. In Mopti region, series of incidents took place: unidentified gunmen 4 Sept fired at humanitarian vehicle in Bandiagara district, suspected members of Dogon militia Dana Ambassagou 9 Sept killed Dogon chief accused of collaborating with jihadist groups in Bamba commune, and suspected jihadists 29 Sept ambushed army convoy along Douentza-Boni axis, killing at least two soldiers. In north, French Barkhane convoy 5 Sept hit roadside bomb in Tessalit area, Kidal region, leaving two French soldiers dead. Members of two Tuareg clans 9 Sept exchanged gunfire in Ber commune, Timbuktu region, and several mortar shells same day fell near UN mission (MINUSMA) camp in same area.
Following mass anti-govt protests since June, military coup forced President Keïta to resign; violence continued at lower intensity in centre and north. After reports emerged 18 Aug of early morning shots in Kati and N’Tominkorobougou military bases near capital Bamako, army convoys moved from Kati to Bamako, and soldiers arrested several senior govt officials, including Keïta and PM Boubou Cissé. Keïta stepped down in televised address following night. Group of senior military officers calling themselves National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), led by army colonel Assimi Goita, next day claimed responsibility. Coalition of opposition and civil society groups M5-RFP, which has been at forefront of anti-Keïta protests since June under leadership of prominent Imam Mahmoud Dicko 20 Aug said they were ready to work with CNSP. Thousands of opposition supporters next day celebrated Keïta’s removal in Bamako. Amid widespread international condemnation of coup, delegation of regional body Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 22-24 Aug met CNSP, Keïta and Cissé in Bamako to mediate transition back to civilian rule; talks failed to yield agreement after CNSP reportedly pushed for three-year military-led transition. CNSP 27 Aug released Keïta. ECOWAS next day demanded immediate civilian-led transition and elections within one year; France 30 Aug said CNSP’s three-year transition proposal was “out of question”, calling for quick return to civilian rule; discussions on format of transition still ongoing late Aug amid tensions between CNSP and M5-RFP. Prior to coup, thousands protested against Keïta in Bamako 11 Aug, and again on day of coup 18 Aug. Meanwhile, violence persisted at lower intensity in centre and north. In Ségou region in centre, suspected jihadists 2 Aug killed at least five soldiers in simultaneous attacks on army base and convoy in Niono circle. In neighbouring Mopti region, explosive devices 21-22 Aug killed two gendarmes and four soldiers in Bandiagara and Koro areas; suspected jihadists 27 Aug ambushed soldiers on Konna-Douentza axis, killing four. In town of Gao in north, clashes between ethnic Songhaï and Arab communities 17 Aug left two dead; unidentified assailant 30 Aug reportedly killed Arab trader.
Political crisis turned deadly despite regional mediation efforts, while violence continued at lower intensity in centre and north. Tens of thousands 10 July protested against President Keïta in capital Bamako for third time since early June; protesters clashed with security forces, set up roadblocks and ransacked administrative buildings; unrest continued in following days, reportedly leaving at least 14 dead and dozens injured 10-12 July; protest followed calls by coalition of opposition and civil society groups M5-RFP, led by prominent Imam Mahmoud Dicko, demanding Keïta’s resignation, formation of M5-RFP-led govt, dissolution of National Assembly and Constitutional Court. In address to nation 11 July, Keïta announced de facto dissolution of Constitutional Court. President’s son Karim Keïta, under growing scrutiny for his lavish lifestyle, 14 July resigned as chair of National Assembly’s National Defence, Security and Civil Protection Commission. Regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 14 July appointed former Nigerian President Jonathan special envoy for Mali; mediation mission 15-19 July failed to reach deal to end deadlock; ECOWAS 23 July sent African heads of state delegation to Mali to pursue mediation efforts; 27 July held virtual extraordinary summit, proposed four-point plan to solve crisis including creation of national unity govt and resignation of MPs whose elections are contested, but called Keïta’s resignation “red line”. Keïta same day reshuffled cabinet, asked new ministers to negotiate with opposition to form unity govt. M5-RFP next day rejected plan and reiterated demand for president’s resignation. Meanwhile, violence persisted in Mopti region in centre, albeit at lower intensity. Suspected Fulani armed groups 1 July attacked several Dogon villages in Bankass circle, killing at least 33. Rising tensions between Dogon militia Dan Na Ambassagou and Dogon villagers who refuse to adhere to its rule led to clashes in Koro Cercle. Notably, Dan Na Ambassagou 4 July killed three Dogon civilians in Berda village. In Timbuktu region in north, suicide attack 23 July killed French soldier near Gossi city; al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims 30 July claimed responsibility.
Political crisis escalated after tens of thousands demonstrated against President Keïta; meanwhile authorities faced new allegations of extrajudicial killings amid persistent jihadist and intercommunal violence in centre and north. In capital Bamako, tens of thousands took to streets 5 and 19 June to call on Keïta to step down, citing worsening insecurity, failure to secure release of opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé abducted in north in March, and controversial annulment of parts of legislative elections’ results by Constitutional Court in April; protests followed calls by coalition of opposition and civil society groups led by prominent religious leader Imam Mahmoud Dicko. Keïta 11 June reappointed PM Boubou Cissé after he resigned same day, 16 June promised to open consultations on Constitutional Court’s decision and form unity govt; opposition immediately rejected latter proposal. Regional bloc West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) 18 June sent high-level delegation to mediate dispute, and 20 June called for formation of unity govt and partial rerun of legislative elections. In Mopti region in centre, army faced new accusations of extrajudicial killings. Ethnic Fulani association 6 June said soldiers killed at least 14 civilians in village of Niangassadiou, Douentza circle 3 June, and 26 others in village of Binédama, Koro circle 5 June. Govt 7 June announced investigation. Meanwhile in Mopti, jihadist violence continued. IED 7 June killed at least eight civilians on Dianwely-Douentza axis. Suspected jihadists 27 June attacked military in village of Dinangourou near Burkina Faso border, killing at least two soldiers. In neighbouring Ségou region, suspected jihadists 14 June ambushed military patrol near Bouka Wéré locality, killing at least 24 soldiers. In north, French forces 3 June killed leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Abdelmalik Droukdal in operation in Talhandak, Kidal region near border with Algeria; French Barkhane forces same day killed several suspected jihadists near Ouatagouna town, Gao region. Meanwhile, suspected jihadists 13 June attacked UN mission (MINUSMA) convoy near Tarkint village, also Gao region, killing two peacekeepers.
Jihadist and intercommunal violence continued unabated in centre, and infighting between competing jihadist groups persisted in north and centre. In Mopti region in centre, Bambara Dozo hunters 5 May stormed Fulani village of Djongué Ouro, Djenne circle, killing at least twelve; attack reportedly in retaliation of 3 May raid on neighbouring village of Djongué Bambara by suspected jihadists which reportedly killed four. Security forces and Dogon militia Dan Na Ambassagou 13 May reportedly killed six jihadist militants in Dioungani area, Koro circle; three militiamen also killed. Security forces 15 May said they killed around 30 suspected jihadists in previous day raid near border with Burkina Faso. Unidentified assailants 23-27 May reportedly killed at least 28 civilians in several attacks on ethnic Dogon villages in Bankass, Bandiagara and Koro circles. Security forces continued to face allegations of extrajudicial killings. Notably, army 10 May reportedly killed six Fulani civilians in Dinangourou, Koro circle. Infighting between jihadist groups continued in north and centre throughout month, with jihadist Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) reportedly driving out Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated combatants from most of northern Gao region, and JNIM-affiliated Katiba Macina reportedly inflicting heavy losses on ISIS factions in inner Niger Delta area of Mopti region. After Constitutional Court late April annulled 5.2% of total votes in second round of legislative elections held 19 April, resulting in ruling party winning ten additional seats in National Assembly, protests broke out early May in several cities, including capital Bamako, Sikasso and Kati, leaving several injured. National Assembly 11 May elected ruling party MP Moussa Timbiné as president. After protests against COVID-19 curfew erupted in several cities early May, including Kayes, Bamako and Bandiagara, govt 9 May lifted curfew throughout country.