Mali. The year was marked by continued civil war. The
Islamist rebels who took control of the country's north went
on the offensive south at the beginning of the year, and
there were concerns that the army would not be able to
defend the capital Bamako. The Mali government had appealed
to France for help, and in January the former colonial power
sent fighter jets and about 4,000 soldiers to Mali. Several
western countries also contributed transport plans.
Countryaah, Mali had also asked for help from the UN, and the French
intervention was subsequently supported by the UN Security
Council. With aerial bombings against the rebel strongholds,
the French drove the rebels north, and with tanks and French
and Malian ground troops soon took control of the historic
desert town of Timbuktu with several cities. French
President Franšois Hollande visited Mali in February, saying
that the French military would remain there until the
government gained control of the entire country.
Hundreds of deaths and injuries were reported from the
fighting, even civilians became victims. However, the
success of the French and Malian military meant that the
government dared to announce presidential elections until
July, elections that would have been held the year before
but had to be postponed because of the fighting.
The regional cooperative organization ECOWAS sent about
6,000 soldiers from West African countries to fight the
rebels. The ECOWAS force became part of the peacekeeping
force decided by the UN in April, under the name MINUSMA. It
would consist of up to 11,000 soldiers and 1,400 police
officers. have the task of protecting the civilian
Nearly half a million people were estimated to have fled
their homes away from the fighting, some to neighboring
countries but most within Mali. Two-thirds of schools in the
north were destroyed or had to be closed and hundreds of
thousands of children lacked education. An international
donor conference in May promised over $ 4 billion for
reconstruction in Mali.
The rebel side had been divided with the Tuareg rebels,
the MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad),
against the Islamic Tuareg militia Ansar al-Din and Aqim
(al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). In June, the MNLA signed
a ceasefire agreement with the government, and the
government army could take control of the city of Kidal
before the election. Despite the outbreak of violence,
incomplete electoral preparations and drop-outs among the
candidates, the presidential election was conducted in July
under relatively calm.
In the first round, former Prime Minister Ibrahim
Boubacar Ke´ta received the most votes, followed by former
Finance Minister Souma´la CissÚ. In a second round between
them in August, Ke´ta clearly won by 77.6% of the votes
against 22.4% for CissÚ. Less than half of the eligible
voters took part in the election.
The new president took office in September and then
appointed an economist to lead the new government, Oumar
Tatam Ly. He was educated in France and had been head of the
West African Central Bank. A former rebel leader, Zahibi
Ould Sidi Mohamed, was appointed Foreign Minister, and the
government was given a Ministry of National Reconciliation
and Development in Northern Mali.
However, the road to calm in the north looked long. The
talks with the MNLA shattered, the military and rebels ended
up in fighting, and suicide bombings with death victims were
carried out. To stop the Islamists, the French and Malian
military joined forces with the UN forces in October. At
that time, the UN force consisted of about 6,000 men, and
France had about 3,000 soldiers in Mali.
The rebel militia MNLA broke its ceasefire at the end of
the year, but the planned parliamentary elections could
still be conducted in two rounds in November and December.
However, turnout was low, just under 38%. President Ke´ta's
party Collection for Mali was clearly the largest, with 61
of the 147 mandates at stake. Along with allied parties, the
president's bloc received a majority of 115 seats.