Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta stands at the closing of his presidential inauguration ceremony Tuesday in Bamako, Mali. (Reuters)

On Sept. 4, Mali’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, was sworn in for a second term. Keïta won 67 percent of the vote in Mali’s recent presidential elections, which went to a runoff Aug. 12.

Not all Malians are enthusiastic about the president, however: Opposition candidates alleged fraud, and turnout was 34 percent because of a combination of voter apathy and widespread violence.

During his first term, Keïta failed to rein in the country’s multisided civil war. Various foreign military forces deployed in Mali have also been unable to end the conflict. In the lead-up to the two-round election in July and August, news coverage focused on concerns that Islamist militants affiliated with al-Qaeda would disrupt the vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

People look for their names on the electoral list at a polling station Monday in Bamako, Mali. Mali’s presidential polls open Sunday in the first round of voting. (Luc Gnago/Reuters)

On Sunday, the first round of Mali’s presidential election will take place. Tensions are high: Political parties have failed to agree on some fundamental issues that could negatively affect voting operations, and there is growing dissatisfaction over the government’s record on security.

The poor security context and the high polarization of political parties mean the election faces several challenges:

1. Security is a huge concern

Central and northern Mali have been shaken by violence for years, but there has been an uptick in recent months. A U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum report in April warned that armed groups are vying for power in a “vacuum of state authority.”

On Wednesday, just days before the election, the central city of Timbuktu was crippled by armed Arab protesters.…  Seguir leyendo »

Janvier 2013 : François Hollande déploie en urgence l’opération Serval (qui deviendra l’opération Barkhane en août 2014) pour «arrêter la progression des groupes terroristes» et «aider le Mali à recouvrer son intégrité territoriale et sa souveraineté». Aujourd’hui, force est de constater que ces deux objectifs n’ont pas été atteints. Depuis la signature de l’accord pour la paix et la réconciliation, en juin 2015, la situation sécuritaire du Mali n’a cessé de se dégrader. Les «groupes armés signataires» (GAS) n’ont pas été désarmés, ce qui explique la prolifération du banditisme. Les violences intercommunautaires se sont multipliées, impliquant des communautés restées jusque-là en dehors du conflit.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Jan. 28, 2013, news broke of an epic cultural catastrophe. That morning, the mayor of Timbuktu, Halle Ousmane Cissé, told journalists that the jihadist occupiers of the town had destroyed its famous literary heritage.

“They torched all the important ancient manuscripts,” Mr. Cissé told The Associated Press. “The ancient books of geography and science. It is the history of Timbuktu, of its people.”

Within hours, the internet was reverberating with paeans to these priceless documents of Islamic scholarship, some of which are said to date to the 12th century. Experts declared it to be a disaster of incalculable proportions, the greatest loss of the written word in Africa since the destruction of the library of Alexandria.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Yemen’s unremitting conflict continues to drive a nation-wide humanitarian crisis, there is an ever-increasing need to quell hostilities. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to rebuild the credibility of the UN-sponsored talks in order to find a durable ceasefire and work toward a political settlement within Yemen: Yemen: A Humanitarian Catastrophe; A Failing State.

On top of major challenges, including the spillover from the war in Syria, Islamic State terrorism and increasingly heavy-handed governance, Turkey’s conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) also reignited last year. …  Seguir leyendo »

He sat quietly drinking tea on a December morning in a village in central Mali. But Amadou, a local chief from the Segou region whose name I have changed for his protection, was worried.

“I know of 10 young men who’ve joined the jihadists in recent months,” he said. “And many more who sympathize.”

I was in Mali to research human rights abuses, something I’d done since 2012, when the country went through a spectacular meltdown after a near-simultaneous takeover by Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups linked to Al Qaeda in the north, and a military coup in the south.

The Islamists’ abusive regime in northern Mali was cut short in early 2013 by a French-led military intervention.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldats maliens devant le Radisson Blu de Bamako, le 21 novembre 2015.

Passer quelques jours dont un dimanche à Bamako, dans le cadre d’un forum francophone pour célébrer le dixième anniversaire de la convention sur la protection et la promotion de la diversité des expressions culturelles: «what else!» pour oublier un tant soit peu les horribles attentats-suicides perpétrés une semaine plus tôt en plein cœur de Paris. Mais ces gens-là, ces barbares, n’ont pas voulu nous accorder un tout petit moment d’accalmie, de répit, de récupération. Les attentats de Bamako m’ont profondément choqué d’autant plus que moi, comme plusieurs autres invités au forum, étions censés séjourner dans cet hôtel Radisson Blu, ou du moins dans ce quartier dit très sécurisé.…  Seguir leyendo »

In a ransacked room on the third floor, a television set eerily broadcasted the France 24 news channel, where images of the attack were playing. In a room on the fourth floor, a half-eaten chicken sandwich sat next to a Turkish man’s passport on a bedside table. In an adjacent hallway, French troops serving with the United Nations stepped around drapes soaked with blood.

When gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, Friday morning and killed at least 19 people (reportedly now as many as 27), they struck at the heart of West Africa’s engagement with the rest of the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nombreux sont les pays qui sortent d’un conflit. Pourquoi alors s’intéresser au Mali ? Il y a à peine six mois que le Mali, avec le concours de l’Algérie et d’autres partenaires internationaux, a signé un accord de paix. Mais, nous le savons, ce type d’accord ne garantit jamais une stabilité sur le long terme.

Le Mali a longtemps été présenté comme un exemple pour d’autres pays africains, pour sa démocratie, son développement et son avenir prometteur. Moi-même, en tant que ministre du Développement de la Norvège, j’ai souvent considéré le Mali comme un modèle de réussite. Lorsque je me suis rendu pour la première fois à Tombouctou, j’ai été surpris par la beauté de sa culture, par la détermination de sa population et par l’histoire que nous raconte cette ville.…  Seguir leyendo »

After months of shuttle diplomacy, the Coordination of Movements for Azawad (CMA), the main rebel coalition in northern Mali, officially signed a peace agreement in Bamako on 20 June. The Mali government and the Algiers Platform, a coalition of pro-government armed groups, had already signed the deal in May. All the protagonists involved in peace talks in Algiers have officially endorsed it.

This is a welcome development for Mali and a great relief for the Algerian-led international mediation. However, after previous agreements failed to restore peace in 1992 and 2006, there are reasons to remain cautious. Three stand out.

First, the CMA – an alliance of Tuareg and Arab-led rebels – signed the agreement under huge international pressure.…  Seguir leyendo »

When French soldiers stormed into northern Mali in January 2013 to chase out militants aligned with Al Qaeda, Malians throughout the country stood to gain. The French, aided by the Chadian and Malian Armies, swiftly took back most of the territory controlled by the extremists. Their mission, Operation Serval, was held up as a rare example of a successful Western intervention against terrorist groups.

In February, the president of France, François Hollande, visited Timbuktu, an ancient center of Islamic education, and a boisterous crowd that had suffered nine months of brutal jihadi rule hailed him as a savior. Later, in Bamako, Mali’s capital, Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the early 19th century, a Fulani scholar, cleric and trilingual poet named Uthman dan Fodio launched one of West Africa’s earliest jihads. Hurtling camelback and horseback, Dan Fodio and his followers delivered Islam to the mostly animist rural savanna on the tips of their spears and broadswords. In the flood plains of the Inner Niger Delta, in what today is central Mali, one of Dan Fodio’s disciples, a Fulani orphan named Ahmad bin Muhammad Boubou bin Abi Bakr bin Sa’id al Fulani Lobbo, led an Islamic rebellion and founded the theocratic empire of Massina. Modern-day Fulani remember and revere him by his nom de guerre, Sekou Amadou — Sheik Mohammed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Si alguno de ustedes no ha visto Tombuctú me atrevería a decir que no sólo se están perdiendo una película excepcional, sino que también ha dejado pasar la ocasión de contemplar uno de los abismos de la humanidad: el odio a la belleza, el miedo al gozo, el crimen en nombre de Dios.

Tombuctú -aquí exhibido aún en los cines como Timbuktu por razones que se me escapan y que deben estar ligados a la pronunciación anglosajona- es uno de esos filmes ante los que el espectador no sabe muy bien si ha visto la película más bella jamás imaginada o la más brutal historia de un pueblo sometido a la intemperancia del fanatismo en nombre de Alá-Dios.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’ouverture des négociations entre le gouvernement malien et les mouvements politico- militaires du Nord Mali le 1er septembre 2014 à Alger laissait espérer un processus de retour durable à la paix. Conduites par la diplomatie algérienne, qui a pris la tête d’une équipe de médiation internationale, les discussions réunissaient pour la première fois depuis juin 2013 la plupart des acteurs du conflit autour de la même table. Mais à l’issue d’une première phase de négociation courte et plutôt décevante, la médiation internationale a remis aux parties maliennes un document présentant les « éléments pour un accord pour la paix et la réconciliation au Mali », qui apparaît comme le squelette déjà bien avancé d’un futur accord de paix.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kidal, in the desert of northern Mali, is a dusty, tedious town, reminiscent of some long-forgotten Foreign Legion outpost, with its crenellated fort and military camps and too many people walking about with guns. Getting there is difficult and dangerous. There are no commercial flights and on the roads, carjackings are common.

Ghislaine Dupont, a reporter for Radio France Internationale, and her sound engineer, Claude Verlon, managed to get space on a United Nations flight. They planned to report on the situation in Kidal, where French troops and United Nations peacekeepers are trying to keep the peace.

Instead, on Nov. 2, shortly after they arrived and just after they finished interviewing the leader of the main, non-jihadist Tuareg separatist group, they were abducted by four men, forced into a pickup truck, driven into the desert and killed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Semaine singulière, entre joie et larmes, qui a vu quatre Français libérés par leurs geôliers jihadistes de trois ans de captivité saharienne, et quatre jours plus tard deux autres Français tués par des individus issus de la même mouvance. Ces deux événements si proches se sont télescopés dans un énorme buzz médiatique, où les pleurs des proches et des collègues l’ont disputé à l’émotion des familles réunies, sur fond de rumeurs, de débats et de polémiques sur la réalité des rançons et des contreparties accordées par la France aux ravisseurs, tout autant que sur l’identité des meurtriers des journalistes de Radio France internationale (RFI).…  Seguir leyendo »

By U.S. standards, there are few free, fair and transparent elections in Africa. Candidates’ cries of foul play often mar the election process. If every request to postpone an election were accepted, there wouldn’t be any held.

The first round of Mali’s presidential election is scheduled for Sunday, with a second-round runoff Aug. 11 if no candidate garners more than 50 percent of the vote. The campaign officially kicked off July 7 with a field of 28 candidates, reaching out to voters across the country.

Tiebile Drame, a former foreign minister, has withdrawn. He petitioned Mali’s Constitutional Court to postpone the election, claiming everyone would not be able to participate in the process because fairness for voters was not in place.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pese a que la frase “comunidad internacional” se invoca muy a menudo, su significado exacto –al igual que su origen– es difícil de percibir. Y como lo ha mostrado la reciente intervención de Francia en Mali, esta ambigüedad de significado es la causa de muchos de los problemas actuales más urgentes de política exterior.

Para algunos simplemente no existe una comunidad internacional. Para otros, el término se refiere en un sentido más pragmático a todos los países cuando deciden actuar conjuntamente. Otra definición más precisa comprende todos los países con influencia internacional –es decir, cualquier país cuya identidad y soberanía sean reconocidas, y que decida participar en debates y toma de decisiones globales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Everyone has heard of censored songs, like Billie Holiday’s “Love for Sale,” which was banned from ABC radio in 1956 because of its prostitution theme. Most are familiar with the censorship of artists, like the Dixie Chicks, who had their music blacklisted from country music stations across the country after they criticized President George W. Bush. But banning music in its entirety?

It has been almost nine months since Islamic militants in northern Mali announced that they were effectively banning all music. It’s hard to imagine, in a country that produced such internationally renowned music as Ali Farka Touré’s blues, Rokia Traoré’s soulful vocals and the Afro-pop traditions of Salif Keita.…  Seguir leyendo »

Francia está en guerra. Si no estuviera por medio el caso de los siete rehenes secuestrados al comienzo de la intervención militar en el norte de Mali, nada indicaría un estado de guerra. Es algo que tiene lugar lejos, sin efecto directo sobre la población. Acaba de morir un tercer soldado francés. El ejército chadiano, muy activo sobre el terreno, ha tenido ya más de 70 bajas. En cuanto a los yihadistas, no es posible tener estadística alguna. Ni siquiera ha podido confirmarse de manera concluyente la desaparición de Abu Zeid y de Mojtar Belmojtar, los dos jefes de esta banda terrorista.…  Seguir leyendo »