Mali. In January, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta hosted
an African-French summit that gathered 35 heads of state and
government in Mali's capital Bamako. It was a political
success that the meeting could be held despite the violence
in the country. According to
Countryaah.com, the government wanted to give a picture of
Mali as an attractive target for foreign investors and not
just tormented by civil war, Islamic extremism and
But a few days after the meeting, 77 people were killed
and over a hundred injured when a suicide bomber exploded at
a military base in Gao in eastern Mali. An Islamist group
linked to al-Qaeda took on the deed, the bloodiest in the
country in several years. In another attack northeast of
Gao, 14 members were killed in a government-run militia.
Due to the uncertain situation, the organizers canceled
the desert festival Festival au Désert, which would have
returned to Timbuktu after several years in exile. The music
festival was seen as a terrorist target, as militant
Islamists banned music when they took over northern Mali. It
was a tough blow to a society where music is a
In February, Mali and neighboring countries decided to
establish a regional security force of 10,000 soldiers and
police to fight militant Islamists. The headquarters would
be located in Mali. The UN gave the go-ahead, and the EU
At a peace conference in Bamako in April, the Mali
government was invited to begin talks with the leaders of
the violent rebel groups jihadist Macina's liberation front
and Islamist Ansar al-Din.
The Malian military and the UN force MINUSMA suffered
losses in the fight against terror. In March, eleven Malian
soldiers were killed on a military base near the Burkina
Faso border, and five soldiers lost their lives in an attack
on a base near the Mauritanian border. Several soldiers were
wounded and the others were taken hostage.
UN soldiers and UN personnel from various nations were
killed in ambush and attacks in both northern and central
and eastern Mali. A Swedish UN soldier was slightly injured
by explosions in Timbuktu in May. MINUSMA is described as
the UN's most dangerous peace mission with over 100 dead
soldiers in total.
The Swedish military operation in the UN force in Mali
was extended to 2018, when it is planned to include 380
people. The task is mainly intelligence work but also
In June, more than 30 people were killed in several days
of violence in central Mali between the Fulani people, who
are livestock keepers, and Dogon, who are farmers. Many
people became homeless through the violence, which is rooted
in a historical conflict over land.
At least five people were killed by armed attackers in an
attack in June against a tourist resort outside Bamako. Four
of the attackers were killed in gunfire. Many guests were
taken hostage but could be freed by Malian security forces.
In June, the Swedish Johan Gustafsson, who was kidnapped
in Timbuktu in 2011 and released as hostage by Aqim
(al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), was released. According
to some information, Mali's security service helped to free
In July, fighting with many deaths in northern Mali was
reported between the Tuareg-dominated former rebel CMA and
the loyalist militia. The CMA then entered the important
city of Meneka closer to the border with Niger.
The repeated violence against UN troops and relief
workers has led to the interruption of many food and health
care interventions. MSF and the Red Cross were temporarily
forced to withdraw from northern Mali.
After months of opposition supporters' protests, in
August President Keïta decided to abandon the planned
referendum on a criticized proposal for a new constitution.
As a result, the proposal was withdrawn. The opposition felt
that it would give the president too much power.
A jihadist leader in northern Mali was sentenced in
August to ten years in prison for amputating the hands and
feet of suspected thieves with reference to Sharia law.
In September, two rival Tuareg groups signed a peace
agreement in northern Mali. It was the separatist movement
CMA and a government loyal militia.
UN Children's Fund UNICEF said in October that tens of
thousands of children in Mali are being threatened by
malnutrition because of the violence and the refugee flows
it is causing.
Idrissa Maïga, former defense minister, was appointed new
prime minister during the year, but in December he and the
entire government resigned. A new head of government was
appointed the president's confidant, former Defense and
Foreign Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga.