The political tension in Mali has taken another twist after
retired Colonel Bah Ndaw, President of the West African
country’s Transitional Government was detained on
Monday along with Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and
Defence Minister Souleymane Doucoure after a cabinet
The three officials were arrested and taken to the Kati
military base, outside the capital, Bamako, a move
political analysts has said will in no small measure
deepen the country’s political crisis.
Condemning the action and calling for the “immediate and
unconditional release” of the detainees, the regional
economic grouping, ECOWAS and the African Union’s
Mission in the Sahel (MISAHEL) urged the “military to
return to their barracks.”
Their joint statement also called on the international
partners to support the efforts by the ECOWAS and the AU
toward the success of the political transition in Mali.
The leadership of the 15,000-strong United Nations
Mission in Mali, MINUSMA has equally issued a similar
statement, while Nigeria’s former President Goodluck
Jonathan, the ECOWAS chief mediator on the Mali crisis is
expected to return to Bamako on Tuesday.
He was in Bamako last week, and in Accra, the Ghanaian
capital, on Monday, attending a meeting for the
reconstitution of the ECOWAS Council of the Wise on
The Mali transitional government was put together
following the 18th August 2020 military coup that ousted
the government of elected president Ibrahim Boubacar
The arrest and detention of trio took place hours after
two military cabinet members were dropped in a
Malian civil society groups and the international
community led by ECOWAS had insisted on a civilian-led
Transition government, but latter endorsed the Transitional
Military Council (TMC)-named government headed by
retired Colonel Ndaw with the junta leader as his deputy
and the military holding some key portfolios.
However, the Ndaw-led government remained under
pressure from the civil society to ensure more inclusivity
in its composition and transition programmes, which
prompted the cabinet shuffle that brought in more non-
state actors, including some members of the M5
The M5 or June 5 Movement started the street protests
that culminated in Keita’s ouster.
But according to diplomatic sources, President Ndaw and
Prime Minister Ouane would appear to have angered the
military over some key positions in the new cabinet.
The Kati military base is fast becoming synonymous with
change of government in Mali. It was at the base that
former President Keita was reportedly forced to sign his
resignation in 2020, while a mutiny that started at the
same base also resulted in the ouster of his predecessor
President Amadou Toumani Toure in 2012.
Following Toure’s removal, the ethnic Tuareg, who had
been fighting for self-determination in northern Mali, were
able to seize about two-thirds of the country. But their
rebellion was hijacked by al Qaeda-linked Islamists who
then tried to march on Bamako before French forces
intervened to halt their advance in 2013.
Today, northern Mali is occupied by French forces and the
MINUSMA and remains largely outside the control of the
government in Bamako, although the Transitional
government is understood to be negotiating with the
Islamist Jihadist groups for an end to hostility and prison
The latest political tussle could compound the already bad
security situation in Mali, which is notorious for chronic
political instability characterized by military coups, tribal
and religious conflicts, as well as separatist and militant
Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and ISIS.
These terrorist groups operate mainly in Mali’s north and
central regions from where they also launch deadly
sporadic attacks on neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Mali also belongs to the G5 Sahel nations (Burkina Faso,
Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania), supported by the EU
and the U.S. in the fight against terrorism and Islamist
In addition to the 15,000 UN mission, France also has
some 4,500 troops based in northern Mali. But these have
failed to stop the perennial instability in the country or end
terrorism and Islamist insurgency in the Sahel.