Mali protests roar back after break for Eid

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Thousands of protesters are once again on the streets of the Malian capital, Bamako, calling on the country's president, Ibrahim Boubakar Keïta, to step down.

They're angry at worsening jihadist violence and the level of corruption in the country.

Malian journalist Mohamed Salaha has tweeted this footage from Bamako:

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Several huge anti-government protests were held in June and July but opposition activists temporarily suspended the action during the Eid celebrations.

As part of a regional effort to end the political crisis, five African presidents visited the country last month and called for the setting up of a government of national unity.

But the protest movement, which is led by a conservative Imam Mahmoud Dicko, rejected the proposal.

The visiting heads of state last month also called for the appointment of new constitutional judges - nine were sworn in on Monday.

Mali swears in new constitutional court judges

Supporters of Imam Mahmoud Dicko and other opposition political parties protest against President Keita in Bamako
Anti-government protests are expected to resume on Tuesday

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta attended a swearing-in ceremony for new constitutional court judges, appointed last week in a bid to end the political crisis in the country.

The nine new judges were sworn in on Monday in a ceremony in the capital, Bamako.

The president's office has tweeted photos of the ceremony:

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The country is caught up in a political crisis, with protesters calling for the resignation of the president for failing to stop violence by Islamist militants and corruption.

The crisis saw five heads of state from the Ecowas regional bloc visit the country last month and propose the formation of a unity government.

The heads of state also called for the appointment of new constitutional judges.

The opposition has rejected the proposal for the formation of a unity government and insisted that the president should resign.

Anti-government protests that had taken a break for Eid-al-Adha festivities are to begin again on Tuesday.

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Mahmoud Dicko: The popular imam taking on Mali's president
Imam Mahmoud Dicko has emerged as the leader of a movement seeking President Keita's departure.

Threatened Mali heritage gets $1m boost

Tradiitonal Dogon architecture
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The area's distinct architecture helped it become a World Heritage Site in 1989

Activists aiming to maintain traditional culture have pledged $1m (£767,000) to help the people of central Mali's Mopti region restore parts of their vital heritage which has been under threat from armed conflict in recent years.

The UN’s cultural organisation, Unesco, is working with the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (Aliph), to support the rehabilitation of the Cliff of Bandiagara (also known as the Land of the Dogons), which has been a World Heritage Site since 1989.

The area is known for its homes carved into the limestone rock and the architecture, as well as the traditional way of life.

The fighting in Mali has led to the partial or total destruction of 30 of the area’s 289 villages, Unesco says in a statement.

Both buildings and cultural objects have been lost resulting in the "deterioration of cultural practices and traditions of the Dogon, Peuls, Bozo, Bambara and Sonrhai groups", according to Unesco.

It also argues that the disappearance of certain traditions has fuelled inter-communal conflict.

Masqued parade
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Unesco fears that some traditions are dying out

While historically there had often been conflict between the more settled communities and the pastoralists, this began to become more violent after the militant jihadist uprising in northern Mali in 2012.

The $1m will be spent over the next three years on restoring the damaged architectural heritage "notably housing, granaries and sites dedicated to traditional culture, as well as to restore the production of cultural objects, and safeguard ceremonial objects in a memorial collection", Unesco says.

UN plane hard landing injures 11 in Mali

Eleven people, including United Nations employees, sustained injuries after a UN aircraft made a hard landing at an airport in Mali's eastern city of Gao, the UN Mission in Mali (Minusma) said.

The plane left the capital, Bamako, Monday morning carrying four UN personnel and seven crew members.

It suffered extensive damage during the incident, the mission said in a statement.

An investigation will be carried out to determine the cause of the accident, it added.

Jacdec, which monitors aviation safety, tweeted photos of the plane:

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Five soldiers killed in Mali twin attacks

A Malian soldier is seen during a patrol in the town of Djenne in central Mali on February 28, 2020.
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Malian soldiers have been the target of attacks by Islamist insurgents

Five soldiers have been killed in central Mali after twin attacks by suspected Islamist militants.

Mali's army tweeted that a military convoy was attacked between Gomacoura and Diabaly, while a second attack staged at the military camp in Gamacoura.

Heavy weapons were used by the attackers, it said.

Five other soldiers were wounded and vehicles destroyed. Reinforcements have been dispatched to the area, the army said.

It is still unclear who staged the attack.

Mali has faced a series of attacks from militant jihadists in recent months, with 24 soldiers killed in June . The attacks have spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The country is also facing a political crisis - the opposition has been calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta for failing to stop the attacks and corruption allegations.

The opposition has rejected proposals made last month by five heads of state from the West African regional block Ecowas to form a unity government to resolve the crisis.

President Keïta last week appointed a slimmed down cabinet to work towards a government of national unity, and Prime Minister Boubou Cissé has reached out to a popular imam Mahmoud Dicko who is leading the protest movement.

Mali MPs say they won't resign amid political crisis

Smoke billows as protesters march in Bamako
Opposition protesters want the president to step down

Malian MPs whose elections have been contested have said they won't resign as recommended by five heads of state from the regional bloc Ecowas who are trying to resolve the political crisis in the country.

The MPs said the suggestion made by Ecowas violates the constitution, according to news agencies.

The opposition has been calling for President Ibrahim BoubacarKeïta to resign over corruption allegation and some 31 legislators from his party whose elections were contested.

To resolve the crisis, Ecowas proposed that the government and opposition form a unity government and that the MPs resign.

President Keïta formed a crisis cabinet in anticipation of forming a unity government, but there was no word on the resignation of the MPs.

The prime minister met popular imam Mahmoud Dicko and asked him to lead the opposition in joining the unity government.

The imam told journalists that he had asked the prime minister to resign and that a second wave of protests would begin after the Muslim festival Eid-al-Adha, according to AFP news agency reports.

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Mali opposition rejects deal to end crisis

The opposition in Mali has rejected a compromise deal proposed by West African leaders to end the political crisis in the country.

On Monday, presidents from the countries in the West African regional bloc Ecowas proposed a plan, which included resolving an election dispute by re-running polls for 31 MPs.

But the plan stopped short of the opposition group M5-RFP's main demand - that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta resign.

The country has been sliding into a political crisis for months.

Huge protests started after the Constitutional Court threw out 31 results from parliamentary elections in April, which benefited President Keïta's party.

Tens of thousands of people have gone out on to the streets in a series of demonstrations - at least 11 protesters were killed earlier this month.

Birds-eye view of protest in Mali
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Protests demanding President Keïta's resignation have seen thousands on the streets of Bamako

Mali leader appoints crisis cabinet

BBC World Service

Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta
The opposition had rejected the proposal to form a unity government with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has appointed a slimmed down cabinet to work towards a government of national unity, according to a statement from his office.

The new cabinet would include the Prime Minister Boubou Cissé and six other ministers, it said.

It came hours after a summit of West African leaders called for the swift creation of a unity administration and a fresh vote, following disputed elections.

No statement has been made on the other proposals by the regional grouping Ecowas, like the resignation of 31 parliamentarians whose election was disputed and the remodelling of the constitutional court.

The opposition coalition in Mali had earlier rejected a proposal for a national unity government, insisting the president must go.