Mali’s history as an unstable state has been linked to not only security challenges but also political tensions in state administration. While many efforts and resources have been directed toward security issues, little attention has been paid to the country’s political crisis in governance, which has plagued the country since its independence and continues to this day, raising questions and doubts about when the country will see a smooth and uninterrupted regime.

Mali today is a multi-party republic with a presidential régime based on the new constitution adopted by referendum in January 1992. In accordance with the terms of this constitution, the president, elected for five years, appoints the prime minister who selects the members of his cabinet.

On November 19, 1968, eight years after the country’s independence, President Modibo Keita, Mali’s first president, was overthrown by a military coup led by Lieutenant Moussa Traoré. This was in response to peasant protests against Modibo Keita’s socialist regime. Lieutenant Moussa Traoré, who took over power, ousted him. He was the head of state until March 1991, when he was toppled by the same means after 23 years of authoritarian leadership/rule. His tenure was marked by a single-party system, recurring economic crises, and droughts, which resulted in a thirst for democracy among Malians.

The military coup that deposed Malian President Moussa Traoré, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Amadou Toumani Touré, was followed by a democratic transition that resulted in legislative and presidential elections in 1992. Alpha Oumar Konaré was elected President of Mali and led the country in the democratic era until 2002. Lieutenant-Colonel Amadou Toumani Touré ran for president in 2002 after retiring from the military. He was re-elected for a second term, but a coup d’état launched by a group of Kati soldiers forced him out of office, just as he was about to leave the seat.

Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, the coup leader, suspended the constitution and promised a transitional government. Nonetheless, Malian parties and the international community, which imposed sanctions, condemned the situation. The election for that year was rescheduled for 2013.

Exploiting the instability in Bamako, the jihadists gain the upper hand over the Tuareg separatists from the north and seize the three regions of northern Mali, Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu. They governed the northern part of the country under a severe form of Sharia law until the start of the French and regional military intervention in January 2013.

After winning the presidential elections on July 28, 2013, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita assumed power as Malian president in September 2013. Following the election on August 12, 2018, he was also re-elected for a second term. Soldiers deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cissé on August 18, 2020, and formed the National Committee for the Salvation of People (CNSP). He was accused of escalating jihadist violence, economic stagnation, corruption, and nepotism. A National Transition Committee was formed with the commitment to hold democratic elections at the beginning of 2022. The junta assigns Bah N’Daw as president of the transition. Mali adopted an 18-month transition chart.

Malian military forces.

On May 24, 2021, military officers from the Kati camp apprehended transitional president Bah N’Daw and prime minister Moctar Ouane, who were taken to the Kati military base, a well-known camp known for being the epicentre of all Mali’s military coups. This occurred during the country’s 18-month transition period following the 18 August 2021 coup d’état. This detention was thought to be related to the fact that two members of the junta that took power in the 2020 coup were removed from their positions in a cabinet reshuffle. The transitional president and prime minister were forced to resign as a result of the coup.

This coup was strongly condemned by international bodies, despite the fact that Mali was sanctioned by some organizations, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). While a new interim government has been formed to govern the affairs of the state until the next general elections in 2022, all hopes are focused on the birth of a democratic nation. Will the next election help to rebuild the country into a true democracy?