Mali. The year became tumultuous with civil war and military coup. The Tuaregic rebel groups in the north, which had attacked the army the year before, stepped up their attacks. Several cities were attacked at the beginning of the year, and the fighting forced tens of thousands of people to flee. It also caused concern in the capital Bamako with protests against the regime’s failure to protect the people of the north.
Discontent culminated in a coup in March when militants seized power in the capital, repealed the constitution and abolished Parliament. President Amadou Toumani Touré’s palace was occupied, ministers arrested and curfew imposed.
The National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and the State (CNRDR) was formed, and the aim was to defeat the uprising, restore central government control over the whole of Mali and then restore democracy. Captain Amadou Sanogo was appointed head of state, and a new temporary constitution was presented. The political parties joined forces in protest against the coup makers, demanding an immediate return to democracy.
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The MNLA rebels, the National Movement for Azawad’s Liberation, had success in the north, and the coup makers asked the outside world for support to fight them. The West African Cooperation Organization ECOWAS responded that the military must relinquish power if Mali was not financially isolated. Juntan promised parliamentary elections, but the coup makers remained and ECOWAS introduced financial sanctions.
In the north, several provinces fell into the hands of the rebels, which led to lawlessness and difficult conditions for the civilian population. The al-Qaeda terrorist network in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), which has been active in the area, gained increasing influence.
In April, the MNLA declared an independent state in the north, Azawad, with Timbuktu as its capital. Then the military junta in Bamako announced his departure and handed over to Parliament’s Speaker Dioncounda Traoré, which led ECOWAS to lift its sanctions. President Amadou Toumani Touré, who would still resign after a planned presidential election in late April, also resigned and allowed Traoré to take over as interim president with the task of returning Mali to democratic rule.
The military gained a place in the new government, including as Minister of Defense and with control over national security. Ministers from the previous government were arrested, the outgoing president fled the country and his supporters tried to counter the junta, but it was bloodied down. The new President Traoré was assaulted and beaten unconscious by a mass of people who objected to the agreement on the sharing of power between Traoré and the military.
In the north, the Tuareg rebels MNLA merged with the Islamist Tuareg militia Ansar al-Din and proclaimed an Islamic state. Ansar al-Din introduced sharia laws, supported by Aqim. Human rights organizations raised alarms about cruel abuse. Adulterers were stoned to death, thieves got their hands cut off, and women raped, forced into prostitution and used as a commodity. Several hundred thousand people fled the area.
Cooperation between the MNLA and the Islamists was broken and turned into fighting. Ansar al-Din and Aqim entered the cities of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao. Islamists began vandalizing multi-hundred-year-old religious shrines and tombs built over Sufic Muslims, according to Islamist idolaters. It did not help that UNESCO placed Timbuktu with its magnificent mosques on the list of endangered world heritage sites.
The Islamist rebels expanded their grip to the south and in September occupied the strategically important city of Douentza. President Traoré requested military assistance against the rebels of the West African cooperation organization ECOWAS, which decided to send a military force to Mali to take back the country’s northern part on behalf of the central government. The rebels, in turn, were strengthened by Islamic warriors from mainly Sudan and Western Sahara.
The military with the coup leader Captain Sanogo at the head was opposed to military action from outside and in December deposed Prime Minister Modibo Diarra, who propagated for such. Django Sissoko, former secretary general of the West African Union, was appointed new head of government.
At the end of the year, the UN Security Council adopted a one-year mandate for ECOWA’s military force to help the Mali government recapture its northern parts. Before the operation begins, however, the UN wants to see political steps, including new elections.
According to countryaah, the population of Mali in 2012 was 17,438,667, ranking number 64 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.990% yearly, and the population density was 14.2919 people per km2.