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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.
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