21 August 2020




  • Military coup leaders will seek to reach political settlement with opposition in effort to legitimise coup and ease external pressure in coming weeks
  • West African regional bloc ECOWAS will maintain border closures and financial sanctions for now amid demands that Keita be reinstated
  • Risks of sporadic violent unrest in Bamako will increase if talks between military leaders and opposition activists fail to make progress in coming months



President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was detained alongside several ministers by factions of the army and National Guard in a military coup on 18 August, later resigning and dissolving the government. Keita and former Prime Minister Boubou Cisse are believed to be being held at a military camp in Kati, 15 km northwest of Bamako. The coup was condemned by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with member states closing their borders with Mali and freezing financial flows. ECOWAS has also threatened to impose sanctions on the coup leaders. The African Union, France, the US, EU and UN also condemned the coup. The next day, the military leaders announced the formation of a new ruling body, the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, and promised to ensure stability and organise elections within a “reasonable time frame”. The leader of the junta is reported to be Colonel Assimi Goita, a special forces commander.


Keita, who came to power following a coup in 2012 and was elected as president in 2013 and again in 2018, has been an important ally for France and the US in their fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel. However, he has faced protests in Bamako led by the M5-RFP opposition coalition and the popular Imam Mamoud Dicko since June, alongside growing calls to resign over widespread corruption within his administration, endemic socioeconomic hardships and deteriorating security (see our 17 July report). The opposition has welcomed the coup leaders, with Dicko meeting military officials on 19 August, but reports suggest the M5-RFP was not itself directly involved in Keita’s overthrow – although the military faction that deposed the president likely took action because talks between the opposition and Keita had failed to make…

Mali: West African regional bloc ECOWAS will maintain border closures and financial sanctions

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