Timeline: Mali since independence

A brief look at the African country’s political past since its independence from France in 1960.

Mali map
Presidential elections took place on July 28 after being postponed following the coup in March 2012 [Al Jazeera]

Since gaining independence from France in 1960, the West African state of Mali has been afflicted by several rebellions, insurrections, and coups. The intervention of French troops on January 2013, following an armed coup in March 2012, has paved the away for democratic elections once again.

1960s & 1970s

1960: The Mali Federation (which included Senegal) gains independence from France. Mobido Keita, a socialist, becomes the country’s first president. Senegal left the Federation later that year.

1962-64: Nomadic Tuareg peoples in the north of Mali, dissatisfied with their position in the new state and wanting a state of their own, revolt in the First Tuareg Rebellion. The Malian government’s army is much better-equipped than the rebels, and after defeating them, force Tuareg areas under military administration. This stokes resentment in these regions, and causes many Tuareg to flee to neighbouring countries.

1968: A coup led by a young army lieutenant named Moussa Traore overthrows Mobido Keita’s regime. Traore forbids opposition political parties, and presides over the development of a police state.

1968-74: Mali suffers from a major drought, which devastates many Tuareg areas in the north.


1990-95: The Second Tuareg Rebellion begins in June 1990, as separatists in the north demand their own Tuareg state. Malian President Alpha Konare grants greater autonomy to the Tuareg-heavy Kidal region, causing the conflict to die down somewhat, but hostilities continue for several years more.

1991: Dissatisfaction with poor economic conditions and the Traore regime’s corruption help spur a pro-democracy protest movement. Following a government crackdown, in which dozens are killed or injured by government forces, a military coup removes Traore from office in the so-called “March Revolution”. The coup leader, lieutenant colonel Amadou Toumani Toure, leads Mali before stepping down when elections are held in 1992.

1992: The first democratic elections since before the Traore regime are held in Mali. Alpha Konare is elected president, and then re-elected in 1997.


2002: Amadou Toumani Toure, who led the 1991 coup overthrowing Traore, is elected president after winning 64 per cent of the vote.

2006: In June, Mali reaches a peace agreement with Tuareg rebels seeking greater autonomy for their northern desert

2007: Toure wins 71 per cent of votes to guarantee a second five-year term as president. A Tuareg rebellion breaks out in Niger and Mali, concentrated in Niger’s northern Agadez region and Mali’s northeastern Kidal Region.

2008: Several Malian government troops and Tuareg fighters are killed when a rebel column attacks an army post near the Mauritanian border, despite a ceasefire between the two sides.

2009: Hundreds of rebels lay down their weapons in northern Mali in a sign that military pressure and Algerian mediation may be helping end the rebellion led by Tuareg nomads.


2011: After the end of the uprising in Libya, large numbers of Tuareg, who had fought for Muammar Gaddafi in the Libyan civil war, return to their home country, many heavily armed. The Tuareg rebellion is reignited in northern Mali, with the aim of establishing an independent Tuareg state called Azawad.

January 2012: Tuareg rebels exchange gunfire with Malian soldiers in a northern town.

February 2012: Mali are due hold its presidential election on time in April despite the rebellion in the north, Toure says.

March 2012: Mutinous Malian soldiers close the borders hours after declaring they seized power from the president in protest at the government’s failure to quell the rebellion in the north.

The newly formed National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR) declares it has seized power. Malian soldiers say they have deposed Toure and suspended the constitution.

The African Union suspends Mali’s membership following the coup. Regional bloc ECOWAS follows suit a few days later and threatens to use sanctions dislodge the army leaders.

Toure, in his first public comments since he was ousted, tells French radio he is free and unharmed.

March – April 2012: Tuareg rebels enter key towns in the north of Mali after soldiers abandon positions. They seize regional capitals Kidal, Gao and then Timbuktu in a three-day offensive. The rebellion effectively controls the whole of the northern half of Mali.

April 2012: ECOWAS imposes sanctions including a complete shutdown of borders to force the junta to step down from power.

Tuareg fighters who have captured the north of the country declare an independent state called Azawad, with the city of Gao as its capital.

Map showing rebel declared Azawad state in April 2012 [Al Jazeera]

ECOWAS and Mali’s military coup leaders agree to a deal under which the junta will hand over power to parliament speaker Diouncounda Traore, who will be sworn in as interim president with a mission to organise elections.

Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure hands in his official letter of resignation from one of the hiding places in the capital where he had been since the coup. This paves the way for the ECOWAS brokered deal to take effect.

Diouncounda Traore is sworn in as interim president. He says he will not hesitate to wage war against the rebels who have seized the northern parts of Mali, if they do not agree to peace talks.

ECOWAS lifts sanctions against Mali and agrees to give amnesty to those involved in the coup.

June 2012: The instability in Mali worries African leaders, who call for intervention in the country.

August 2012: A new government is formed under Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra in order to meet regional demands that the country transition away from military-dominated rule.

October – December 2012: The north of the country becomes even more of a stronghold for the rebel groups. The town of Douentza falls to the rebels in September, the first move that crosses into Mali’s centre.

November 2012: ECOWAS agreed to a military expedition aimed at recapturing the north. The West African regional group gains backing from the African Union and the EU and begins to prepare for the offensive.

December 2012: Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra is succeeded by presidential official Django Sissoko. The UN and the US both threaten to levy sanctions against the country as allegations that Diarra was under pressure from army leaders who were opposed to military intervention in the north.

January 2013: The town of Konna falls to religious fighters who then plan to march towards the capital city and the seat of government, leading to President Traore appealing to France for help.

France sends about 2,500 ground troops into Mali to complement the 3,000-strong African force already there. The forces capture Gao and Timbuktu before heading in to Kidal at the end of January.

February 2013: France’s President Francois Hollande is warmly received when he visits Mali and outlines a plan for troop withdrawal.

April 2013: While France’s troops begin to withdraw, a regional African force provides security and stability to assist the Malian army.

June 2013: A peace deal between Tuareg rebels and the government is signed, allowing the way to open for elections. The rebels agree to hand of Kidal, the town they captured following the French troops ousting of religious fighters in January.

July 2013: Presidential elections took place on July 28 after being postponed following the coup in March 2012.

August 2013: Former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his challenger, ex-finance minister Soumaila Cisse, campaign in preparation for presidential runoff after first round failed to producer clear winner.

August 13: In the presidential runoff, Keita wins Mali election after Cisse concedes.

Source: Al Jazeera