Inside Story

Is the crisis in Mali over?

We ask who really is in charge in the African country after a thwarted counter-coup raises more political uncertainties.

There is further uncertainty in Mali after the military junta fought off an apparent counter-coup by the deposed president.

Six weeks ago there was a coup, then a power-transition deal, an interim government and now a counter-coup, or at least an attempt at one.

Very nice-sounding agreements are not going to really carry any weight until the junta feel that they need to step aside and so far it’s clear they don’t.”

– Aly Khan Satchu, a political analyst

Mali’s ruling military leaders said that they are in control of the state broadcaster building, the airport and the military base in Kati near the capital Bamako.

They said this after a counter-coup by the presidential guards or ‘Red Berets’ of Imane Toure, the former president, of being behind the attempted coup.

Captain Amadou Sanago, the leader of the initial coup, signed a deal with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to return the country to constitutional rule.

The deal gave the junta a supervisory role in the transition and gave 40 days to Dioncounda Traore, the interim president, to organise elections.

This campaign is being done by the minority so there’s also a risk that down the road the majority might feel marginalised and begin their own separatist agitations. How far are we going to go?”

– Sunday Ugoh, an ECOWAS spokesperson

At the end of an extraordinary summit of the heads of state last week ECOWAS suggested extending the transitional period to 12 months. It also suggested sending 600 troops to secure the transition and to have the rebel soldiers return to their barracks.

The junta has rejected the ECOWAS suggestions, and said that not even one hour will be added to the 40 days given to Traore.

Technically, Mali is still under the rule of the military coup leaders and their appointed interim president.

And there is still a rebellion in the north, with actual civilian rule looking to be a long way off.

So, is the crisis in Mali over? Has the peace deal brokered by ECOWAS simply failed? What is next for this politically-fragile country? And, who is to blame for the crisis in Mali?

Joining presenter Kamahl Santamaria on Inside Story to discuss these issues are guests: Alessandra Giuffrida, an anthropologist specialising in Mali at the School of Oriental and African Studies; Aly Khan Satchu, a political analyst and CEO of the East Africa financial portal,; and Sunday Ugoh, an ECOWAS spokesperson.

“The interim government seems to lack a sort of authority and legitimacy in the eyes of most Malian people. This could have devastating effects given the crisis the country is in at the moment.”

– Alessandra Giuffrida, an anthropologist


  • Amadou Toumani Toure – the deposed president who was forced from power just weeks before he was meant to resign.
  • Captain Amadou Sanogo – the coup leader who said he did what he did because of the mismanagement of the Tuareg rebellion. He did hand back power but has worried some with remarks that he may play a future role in Mali’s politics.
  • Dioncounda Traore – the interim president who coveted the top job for a long time but was also an ally of Toure.
  • The two Tuareg rebel groups – the MNLA calling for a Tuareg independent homeland and the Ansar Dine which wants Islamic law.
  • ECOWAS – played a central role in brokering a deal to return Mali to civilian rule but has run into trouble with the coup leaders who see it as trying to sideline the military.