Roundup on the Change of Prime Ministers in Mali

Yesterday, after having been arrested by soldiers, Mali’s Interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned from office. Since the March 21-22 military coup, there have been competing centers of power in Bamako, but as Gilles Yabi of the International Crisis Group told Reuters, “What is really clear now is that the military junta is the one that is in control.” In a move that underlined that point, Captain Amadou Sanogo, leader of the March coup, appeared on state television to comment on Diarra’s resignation, saying, “Some weeks ago he (Diarra) said if anyone wanted him to go, he would tender his resignation, not to the president, but to us. So yesterday, we saw that it was necessary for him to go.” Interim President Dioncounda Traore has named a “longtime civil servant,” Diango Cissoko (alternative spellings exist), as the new prime minister.

The “second coup,” as Dr. Gregory Mann calls it, has already generated much coverage and commentary – indeed, Mann’s piece is a great place to start. So rather than analyzing events myself, I think I can add the most value by rounding up the most pertinent articles. Since the conflict between Diarra and the soldiers appears to have centered on the issue of a foreign military intervention in Mali, I’ve included several articles on that topic.

Videos/Malian Reactions

Analyses of/Sources for Bamako Politics

  • Pre-coup: El Watan‘s piece (French) with a section entitled “Diarra, the Most Criticized Man in Bamako.”
  • NYT: “Mali’s Prime Minister Resigns After Arrest, Muddling Plans to Retake North.”
  • RFI’s interview with Professor Michel Galy (French).
  • Biographies of Cissoko: official and unofficial (French).
  • Dr. Jay Ufelder, “The Coup Trap.”

Statements by Foreign Governments/Bodies on PM Diarra’s Ouster

  • United Nations.
  • French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. See also RT, “France Urges Foreign Military Intervention in Mali after PM Arrest.”
  • US State Department. As Andrew Lebovich commented on Twitter in response to the statement, “So the State Department is going to keep talking about elections in April 2013, or soon after, in Mali.” Let me speak bluntly: I think any election that took place in or around April 2013 would lack integrity and would exclude much of the country, most notably much of the north. Insisting that Mali hold elections in spring 2013 could do more harm than good.
  • UK Foreign Office.

Analyses of the Intervention Debate

  • Reuters: “US, France Differ over How to Deal with Explosive Mali.”
  • Colum Lynch: “[US Amb. to the UN Susan] Rice: French Plan for Mali Intervention Is ‘Crap’.”
  • Wall Street Journal: “EU Moves Closer to Mali Training Mission.”

Newspaper Op-Eds on Intervention in Mali

Relevant Twitter Feeds

Bate Felix, Baba Ahmed, Fabien OffnerDavid Lewis, Peter Tinti, Andrew Lebovich, Hannah ArmstrongTommy Miles, Phil Paoletta, and Dr. Susanna Wing.

9 thoughts on “Roundup on the Change of Prime Ministers in Mali

  1. Pingback: Roundup on the Change of Prime Ministers in Mali « tamoudre

  2. Pingback: In near term, containment may be the name of the game in Mali « Lesley on Africa

  3. I wonder what Sanogo’s objective was. I can see this making the U.S. far less eager to back his government (which we might be seeing from the Franco-American split on how to proceed) in attempts to retake the north, or more skeptical of the probability of success which amounts to the same thing. Is Sanogo focused on personal power? I also wonder if conditions in Mali are bad enough that even if the government he’s tied himself to fails it won’t generate backlash.

    • Nice points. One (oversimplified) explanation is that Diarra wanted/sought external intervention, which Sanogo apparently hopes to delay or deny. This definitely strengthens Sanogo’s hand in the short term, but who can say for the long-term. The US is fixated on this idea of elections, but the soldiers are making clear that they want a major say in national/southern politics.

      • I can think of one simple reason for why Sanogo doesn’t want foreign soldiers on his land. That means there are other, more powerful, factions that have well-armed soldiers on the ground, able to control events. It also means that he kept foreign soldiers out and allows him to increase his credentials as a nationalist. A less cynical possibility that easily coexists with the first and second is that the soldiers feel some nationalist pride and just won’t accept foreign soldiers.

        Something that’s struck me since this business began. The Tuareg and Islamist groups in the north had little difficulty pushing the official army out. I don’t know of any sources on who was fighting in the north but I see no reason to assume that it wasn’t what passes for a competent force. Why then didn’t at least the northern Ansar Dine move to take all of Mali? Were they unable to rely on Tuareg forces who wanted independence, fear of ECOWAS intervening to prevent them from controlling an entire nation or something else?

      • My impression is that the fighting would get much tougher as Ansar al Din and their allies moved south and they hit more densely populated zones where they would have very little support, and many government troops would be on turf they’re more comfortable with, and closer to supplies, etc. The northern Islamists have threatened to go south but so far have not gone past places like Douentza.

  4. I doubt that the Islamic alliance will make any sort of ground push south in response to a foreign intervention, or as part of a wider strategy, unless the capital is so weak that it tempts invasion. They seem to realize that they only have the advantage in the north, and biting off more than they can chew is a lesson that al-Qaeda has experienced more than once. Sabotage, bombings and mobile warfare on government/military targets will likely comprise an Islamic counterattack in the south.

    This move on Diarra is an obvious blow to NATO and the AU’s overall planning cycle – their mission is slipping day by day. And the more they wait, the more resources and time they will need to uproot the Islamist network.

    • At this point I have to seriously wonder if it’s worth it to push for any mission in Mali’s north until events and institutions in the south are reestablished. I know this goes against the standing rule of ‘no border changes’ but the odds of the government being able to hold northern Mali were already bad before this second coup*. After this, even if there were a successful campaign and Ansar Dine and Tuareg separatists were completely crushed we’d probably just see a replacement show up in five years time to start the headache over again.

      Yes, I’m aware that it allows Ansar Dine to reinforce their hold on northern Mali and probably will mean more support for groups like Al Qaeda in North Africa, but a rushed military operation with zero political strength isn’t going to make things any better.

      *Or whatever it was. I’m not sure how you define a coup when the military doesn’t seem to have actually given up power in the first place.

  5. Pingback: Mali’s New Old Cabinet | Sahel Blog

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