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.
According to 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 François 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 population.
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 Keïta received the most votes, followed by former Finance Minister Soumaïla Cissé. In a second round between them in August, Keïta clearly won by 77.6% of the votes against 22.4% for Cissé. 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 Keïta’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.