“We must heal these wounds. We must reconcile people to one another,” Keita said, adding that leading the government into a state of stability and integrity was his top priority toward healing his country.
Keita pledged to be a reliable recipient for German aid, describing Mali’s past problems with corruption as something he and his government had left behind “forever. Germany pledges to stand with Mali as it gets back on its feet
Conflict in Northern Mali: a quick overview
*This post will be updated as events unfold*
Mali is a country in West Africa. It is mostly known to the rest of the world as the home of Timbuktu, a city that was once an extremely important center for Islamic scholarship and major trading center under several African empires.
Formerly a French colony, Mali gained its independence in 1960 and was dominated by a dictatorial government until a military coup in 1991 brought democratic rule. Amadou Toumani Touré was elected President in 2002 and re-elected in 2007.
In January 2012, a Tuareg nationalist movement began a rebellion, led by a group called the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). Initially loosely allied with some Islamist groups, MNLA was able to make swift progress in capturing many Northern cities.
In March, government soldiers successfully staged a coup d’etat, ousting President Touré because they were unsatisfied with his handling of the rebellion. An interim government was put in charge.
By April 2012, MNLA took control of the North and declared independence.
Soon conflict began between the MNLA and its former allies, specifically an Islamist group known as Ansar Dine. Ansar Dine is the strongest in terms of political support and territory controlled, and claims to want to turn Mali into an Islamist state. The MNLA lost much of its territory in the clashes with Ansar Dine and its allies.
In January 2013, French forces intervened in the conflict at the behest of the Malian government. They were quickly able to regain territory from the rebels, and began to withdraw a few months later, handing over the reigns to an African contingent of soldiers. A U.N. peacekeeping force was deployed in June.
Tuareg nationalists signed a peace deal with the Malian government in June, paving the way for democratic elections to be held in July 2013. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won the election, which was considered fair and democratic by outside observers.
The conflict has largely been considered to be under control since the signing of the peace deal. However, sporadic violence continues.
The various jihadi groups “are no longer capable of mounting large-scale, co-ordinated strikes”, the French officer said. The local leaders have “gone to ground or left the country”. “Over an area stretching from Mauritania to southern Sudan we shall have to get used to this sort of asymmetric conflict for a long time, it being impossible to eradicate it altogether,” a diplomat said.
In November, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) took responsibility for the murders of two French journalists “as a response to the crimes committed by France against the Malians and the work of African and international forces against the Muslims of Azawad.”
"The political and military wings of the Azawad (MNLA, MAA and HCUA) declare the lifting of the ceasefire with the central government in Bamako," said a statement by Attaye Ag Mohamed, one of the founders of the MNLA groups.
"All our military positions are on alert," he added.
For now, the consequences of ending the ceasefire remain to be seen.
Amadou Sanogo, the ex-leader of the coup that ousted President Touré, has been charged with murder, kidnapping and assassinations. He has been linked to a mass grave discovered this week that is believed to contain the bodies of 21 soldiers.
Human Rights and Humanitarian Concerns
Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances indicate that soldiers loyal to Sanogo are continuing to target their opponents. Amnesty International also reports that civilians suspected of supporting the militias have been subjected to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances at the hands of the Malian Army.
Torture, deaths and deplorable conditions in prisons have been reported. Detention in unofficial places, a violation of international law, is also a concern.
Child soldiers have been used in the fighting and some are being detained by the military.
Explosives left over from the conflict continue to pose a threat to children, causing many accidental injuries and deaths.
“It is an election that allows Mali now to start finishing the process that it has begun: the return to a normal democracy,” he added. Keita wins Mali election after rival concedes
“Acts of conflict-related sexual violence can constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity for which combatants and their commanders will be held to account,” she said. Disturbing reports of extreme sexual violence against Malian women and girls
Mali Still Denying Women’s Rights
Mali’s president says he won’t sign a controversial new law that gives more rights to women, the BBC reports. President Amadou Toumani Toure says he supports the so-called family law, which Muslim leaders have denounced as the devil’s work, but is sending it back to parliament for review. “I have taken this decision to ensure calm and a peaceful society,” he said.
Under the law, women aren’t required to obey their husbands, and the minimum age for marriage is raised to 18 in most cases. Another point unpopular in the 90% Muslim country: Marriage is defined as a secular institution. Women’s groups have been pushing for the changes for 10 years.—Sarah Quinn