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Mali: Another New Beginning


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Strategy Page

October 6, 2020:

A new interim government has been installed, which will operate for 18 months to organize new elections. President Keita, the previous president, was forced to resign, along with all his ministers, by the military o n the August 18th. The many nations which imposed sanctions after the August coup have demanded that there be new elections within twelve months and a new elected government installed.

The August coup was the second one since 2012 and the third since Mali became independent in 1960. The 2020 coup got the same hostile reaction from the neighbors, international organizations and Western supporters as did the 2012 one. The prompt installation of the temporary government, with 21 of 25 ministries led by civilians, is an attempt to get local and international sanctions lifted. So far, no official response from the nations imposing sanctions but indications are that the new government is acceptable as long as it is temporary. The sanctions have disrupted trade and been a bonanza for smugglers. Islamic terrorist groups control a lot of the smuggling so as long as the sanctions remain in force the Islamic terrorists make more money.


Demonstrations had been going on since June 5th and that led to an unexpected coalition, called the June 5Movement (J5M), containing political, economic and religious groups that rarely agree with or work with each other. The coalition held together to the present but past experience shows that such coalitions have a difficult time implementing sustained change. Faction leaders and Malians in general understand that without a much less corrupt government they will be stuck in a cycle of economic decline and inability to deal with tribal, religious and political rebels in central and northern Mali. Foreign aid donors are backing away because of the corruption and the waste of so much aid via theft and mismanagement.

The main leader o J5M Moslem cleric Mahmoud Dicko. He has been the de-facto spokesman for J5M. Dicko is a popular senior imam (Moslem cleric) who studied Islam in Saudi Arabia and came to be chairman of Mali’s High Islamic Council. Despite (or because of) his education in Saudi religious schools (which stress the need for Islamic law) Dicko openly backs a secular government, but one run by honest (or a lot more honest than now) politicians and officials. Imams like Dicko are one reason Islamic terrorist beliefs have not spread to the majority of Malians, most (95 percent) of them Moslem. Many foreign students in Saudi religious schools note that for all its piety Saudi Arabia is very corrupt as are most other Arab oil states. There were some exceptions but without all that oil wealth many Arab governments would be undergoing the same political pain Mali is suffering.

Many Mali politicians and economic leaders don’t trust Dicko, feeling that he must be in touch with Islamic terror group leaders and actually willing to try a religious government. Dicko has never expressed support for that and more and more Malians are believing that.

C orruption has long been a major problem for Mali. Corruption and misuse of foreign aid are the main reasons for many other problems. International surveys of corruption put Mali in the bottom third of nations, but not at the bottom of the list like Somalia Yemen, Syria, and South Sudan. In contrast most of the least corrupt nations are the industrialized ones. The least corrupt are Finland, New Zealand and Denmark.


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