Inside Mali’s lingering political crisis that has left many dead

Although we are headquartered in Washington D.C. USA, our reporters and editors are working around the globe to cover what you care about. We invite you to donate to our fundraiser to help us keep our quality news free and available to all.  

Security forces in Mali have used excessive force in responding to at-times violent protests by the political opposition, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday. During three days of unrest in July 2020 in the capital, Bamako, at least 14 people were killed and over 300 wounded, including demonstrators, bystanders, and security force members. Opposition coalition leaders should take concrete steps to prevent any further violence by their supporters.

The current political crisis was sparked by a Constitutional Court ruling in April that gave the ruling party a majority in parliament, as well as by high unemployment, ongoing instability in Mali’s north and center, and perceived state corruption. Although the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has sought to defuse the crisis, renewed opposition demonstrations are expected.

“The recent violence that rocked the capital left a terrible toll of dead and wounded in its wake,” said Corinne Dufka, Sahel director at Human Rights Watch. “Excessive use of force by the security forces clearly contributed to this toll. Before any more lives are lost, Malian security forces should ensure that they respond to violent protests with minimum force, while political parties should impose restraint on their members.”

[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]

Since June 2020, a broad coalition of opposition political parties, religious leaders, and civil society organizations under the umbrella of The June 5 – Rally of Patriotic Forces Movement (Mouvement du 5 juin Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques or M5-RFP), has protested against the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and at times called for his resignation.

During demonstrations and violence on July 10-12, protesters erected barricades; threw stones and used slingshots; occupied, burned, and looted parts of government buildings; and threatened a judge’s home. Security forces arrested at least five opposition leaders, ransacked the M5-RFP headquarters, and used teargas and live rounds to remove barricades and disperse protesters. The opposition leaders were released on July 13.

Human Rights Watch said its researchers in Bamako and by phone spoke to 26 people with knowledge of the events including 19 witnesses, plus government officials, journalists, opposition leaders, and security analysts. They described 14 deaths of protesters and bystanders, allegedly as a result of gunfire by the security forces in Bamako on July 10 and 11. Several witnesses interviewed had been injured by teargas canisters or bullets.

A government statement said the violence injured 303 people – 176 demonstrators or bystanders and 127 security force members. An M5-RFP statement said security forces were responsible for 23 deaths, all by gunfire. According to Agence France Press and the United Nations, the dead included at least 2 children. The leaders of M5-RFP told Human Right Watch that those involved in street violence were not part of their movement, though some accounts contradicted this assertion.

Witnesses said that on July 10, two people were killed by gunfire near the National Assembly and national broadcast office. Most believed the deaths were from stray bullets. “I saw two young people after they’d been shot … one in the head, the other in the stomach,” one witness said. “Both died on the spot.”

On July 11, security forces fatally shot at least 12 people in the Badalabougou neighborhood. Three were shot by security force personnel guarding the home of the former president of the Constitutional Court. “I saw two youth drop dead – one hit in the head, the other in the chest,” a witness said. “A third youth was badly wounded in the stomach. We took him to the closest hospital on a motorcycle, but he didn’t make it.” 

Security force members shot and killed at least nine people after their security force vehicle fell into an apparently opened gutter near the home and adjacent mosque of Mahmoud Dicko, an influential imam and M5-RFP leader. Witnesses said panicked security force members fired on the demonstrators as they approached the vehicle, killing six, while others were killed as they ran. “They continued firing as we ran toward the mosque,” one witness said. “Three people lost too much blood … they died hours later inside the mosque.”

On July 11, President Keita promised an investigation into protester deaths, and on July 14, the prime minister’s office announced the opening of an investigation into the alleged use of the elite Anti-Terrorist Force (FORSAT) during the demonstrations. The authorities should make public the results of these investigations and hold to account all those involved in the violence. 

The Mali government should publicly order the security forces to abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Human Rights Watch said. The Basic Principles state that security forces shall “apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms,” and that whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials should: use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense and the legitimate objective to be achieved, minimize damage and injury at all times, and respect and preserve human life. Furthermore, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made “when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”


Today News Africa
Today News Africa
TODAY NEWS AFRICA is registered and headquartered in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America. Our publication is widely read, respected and influential. By providing daily answers to questions our readers have about the people, the businesses and the continent of Africa, we are reaching a diverse and wide audience from around the world. Our readers, many of them world leaders, trust us because we are independent and truthful. Our advertisers understand the difference between news, views and ads. Contact us:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending Now



Amnesty International USA outraged over Trump’s decision to cut refugee cap to lowest level ever

Amnesty International USA has expressed outrage over the announcement by the Donald Trump administration announced late on Wednesday that it will...

Human Rights Watch warns Egypt security forces torturing gays

Egyptian police and National Security Agency officers arbitrarily arrest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and detain them in inhuman conditions,...

World leaders, celebrities to join WHO’s big event for mental health on October 10. About 1 billion people live with a mental disorder

On October 10, World Mental Health Day, world leaders and internationally-recognized celebrities and mental health advocates will come together for the World...

Trump admin will admit only 15,000 refugees in 2021 down from 18,000 this year and 100,000 under Obama

The Donald Trump administration announced late on Wednesday that it will admit only 15,000 refugees in the 2021 fiscal year which...

Rights groups urge President Tshisekedi to end widespread impunity in DR Congo as crimes and killings continue

At least two human rights organizations are urging President Felix Tshisekedi to take concrete steps to end impunity in the Democratic...


Damning report finds detainees in Iran were sexually abused and given electric shocks in gruesome post-protest crackdown

Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of...

IMF has given $31 billion to 76 countries to respond to COVID-19, including over $10 billion to 47 low income nations

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given $31 billion in emergency financing to 76 countries in the world to respond to...

Nigeria could shut down on Monday as more unions pledge to join strike amid increase in power and petrol prices

Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, could shut down on Monday, as more unions pledge to join a strike action amid an...

Nigerian activists send open letter to President Buhari urging him to prosecute more than 100 high-profile corruption cases he has ignored

Nigerian activists have sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to prosecute more than 100 high-profile corruption cases...

Biden wins disastrous, embarrassing, worst presidential debate, as out of control Trump fails to change perceptions and refuses to condemn white supremacists

Joe Biden won the first presidential debate on Tuesday night amid countless interruptions by President Donald Trump who was supposed to...

Amnesty International USA outraged over Trump’s decision to cut refugee cap to lowest level ever

Amnesty International USA has expressed outrage over the announcement by the Donald Trump administration announced late on Wednesday that it will admit only 15,000 refugees in the 2021 fiscal year which starts today, October 1.That number is down from the 18,000 this year and dramatically down from 100,000 under the Obama administration.“The number of...


[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]