With Mali experiencing another coup amid widespread protests, could the country fall back into chaos?
Mired in an active insurgency since 2012, something that has also made it a focus of international attention, the Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, announced his resignation on Tuesday just hours after a military mutiny in which soldiers detained the president and his government.
Speaking on TV announcing his resignation on state television, President Keita said, “I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power."
The crisis threatens to plunge the country further into chaos.
It has been almost eight years since a rebellion in Northern Mali almost led to the breakup of the country, and five years since a tenuous peace agreement was signed - yet recent events have demonstrated that Mali is far from stability.
Here are some of the key events that have taken place in Mali in recent years.
January 2012: A rebellion breaks out in northern Mali between a newly founded organisation named the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the Malian military. Azawad is the name given to Northern Mali by the Tuareg people who reside in the region.
The region unilaterally declares impedance, but it is never recognised. A hardline Islamically orientated group, Ansar Dine, also takes advantage of the chaotic situation in order to exert control over the region in cooperation with MNLA.
March 2012: A military-led coup by Captain Amadou Sanogo overthrows President Amadou Toumani Tour. Sanogo cites the government’s mismanagement of the rebellion in northern Mali and goes on to suspend the constitution shortly before elections are meant to be held.
Within ten days of taking over, however, Sanogo’s rule results in the country’s major regional capitals of Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu being taken over by rebels.
The events are described as a “spectacular own-goal” for Sanogo with Tuareg rebels holding more than two-thirds of the country under their control.
April 2012: The MNLA rebels soon declare a new state called Azawad. It receives no international recognition.
The announcement by the MNLA, however, results in fissures within the wider coalition of forces, in particular with Ansar Dine, which also purportedly had contacts with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Ansar Dine object to a new state being established, preferring that the whole of Mali be brought into line with Islamic law. They quickly gain the upper hand over the MNLA.
April 24, 2012: The military coup by Captain Amadou Sanogo, which overthrew President Amadou Toumani Tour, is reversed and a compromise deal is reached.
A civilian, by the name of Dioncounda Traore, is appointed as interim president for one year in order to get the country back on track and prepare for an election.
December 2012: The UN Security Council (UNSC) is increasingly worried about the breakdown of order in Mali.
France, the former colonial power in the region, pushes for action and the deployment of soldiers from the regional block known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
January 2013: France sends troops to Mali operating alongside troops from ECOWAS. The Malian army, with foreign support, succeeds in pushing back Ansar Dine.
France’s intervention, without prior approval by the UNSC, results in legal scrutiny over whether it has a lawful mandate to be in the country. The UNSC later authorises the French Operation Serval retroactively.
April 2013: The UNSC authorises a stabilisation force for Mali that would take over from ECOWAS.
June 2013: Mali's interim government and the Tuareg rebels sign a cease-fire agreement paving the way for presidential and parliamentary elections.
August 2013: Gaining a majority of the vote in a run-off election, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is elected president. Keita’s party also wins parliamentary elections later that year in December.
May 2014: Renewed clashes between the MNLA and the Malian government occur, with Tuareg rebels again taking over territory. Shortly thereafter, a new ceasefire is signed.
November 2015: An attack on an international hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako, sees rebels taking hostages resulting in more than 20 deaths.
While the major insurgency is over, sporadic attacks on international forces and the Malian state continue.
July 2016: An attack on a military base by Ansar Dine results in 17 soldiers being killed, a reminder that insurgent groups are still a potent force against the Malian military, which is often poorly equipped and trained.
July 2016: The International Crisis Group, which deals with conflict resolution, warns of escalating violence in central Mali between rebel groups and criminal gangs seeking to exploit insecurity as a result of weak and corrupt governance.
March 2018: Hundreds die in one of the worst bouts of intercommunal violence in Mali. It results in thousands fleeing their homes.
July 2018: Mali holds presidential elections that see the incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita winning with more than 60 percent of the vote.
October 2019: Protests in Mali sees thousands on the streets demanding that French troops leave the country in addition to the UN military force.
March 2020: Parliamentary elections are held amid widespread violence in central and northern Mali. Electoral turnout was estimated to be around 40 percent. The party of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita emerges as the largest party.
June 2020: The West African regional bloc ECOWAS calls on Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to re-run parliamentary elections amid protests.
July 2020: Attempts to mediate by ECOWAS between the government and the opposition have had a limited impact. Protests railing against corruption, economic insecurity and the worsening security climate remain unresolved.
August 19 2020: Second military coup in eight years takes place. No military figurehead has yet emerged.