Tension has temporarily eased in the Malian capital on Tuesday July 14 after several days of violence. The June 5 Movement, which demands the dissolution of the National Assembly and the resignation of the President of the Republic, triggered civil disobedience on July 10. Several international organizations are concerned about the development of the situation. A new demonstration is scheduled for July 17.
Opened banks and shops, no barricades at the entry and exit of the bridges, let alone tear gas and firing of live ammunition from the police. During the day, the city of Bamako found its breath after four days of violence. But towards the evening, young people posed barricades on certain main roads.
It was on Friday July 10 that the June 5 Movement initiated “civil disobedience” in Mali during their 3rd major demonstration. On the same day, the National Assembly and the High Council of Collectivities were ransacked, and offices and vehicles burned down. The national TV station was attacked by demonstrators the same Friday. Bridges and major roads were barricaded. Fuel stations of multinationals were not spared. The human toll is heavy: more than 10 people killed and more than 100 wounded by gunfire, according to M5 officials. They accuse the Special Anti-Terrorism Force (Forsat) of shooting live ammunition at the demonstrators in Badalabougou, stronghold of the protests godfather, Mahmoud Dicko. “We appreciate our special forces when they are in theaters of operation, but not in policing,” said Mountaga Tall of M5.
The Prime Minister’s office opens an investigation into the use of Forsat
Malians are surprised to see Forsat’s involvement in policing for some time. Its first intervention dates back to May in Sikasso, capital of the southern region of Mali. The special anti-terrorist force put an end to the contestation of the results of the parliamentary elections by shooting live ammunition at young people. Result: one dead and several wounded.
“Forsat is responsible for fighting terrorism in all its forms. No other security mission can be assigned to it”, section 2 of decree 2016-0592 / MSP-SG establishing the Forsat. “Forsat has national jurisdiction and only intervenes on the orders of the Minister of Security”, specifies article 3 of the same decree.
The intervention of the force against demonstrators on July 10 and 11 has aroused many reactions since it comes at a time when the post of the Minister of Security has been vacant for a month following the resignation of the government. Faced with the denunciation of the media and Internet users, the Prime Minister (re-appointed to his post and responsible for forming a new government, editor’s note) announced on Tuesday July 14, the opening of an investigation into “the use of Forsat”.
“It has come to my notice that the Forsat, attached to the Ministry of Security was used during the policing operations of July 10 and following days, to support the units of the security forces deployed as part of the securing of demonstrations of civil disobedience organized by the M5-RFP. I instruct you to carry out the necessary investigations in order to specify to me the reasons for the engagement of Forsat, the authority having ordered the engagement and the respect or not of the procedure laid down in the matter, “indicates Dr Boubou Cissé, in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Security.
The international community favors dialogue
In a joint declaration on July 12, the representatives of the ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations in Mali expressed their concern over the development of the situation following the July 10 meeting of the M5. They “rigorously condemned any form of violence as a means of resolving the socio-political crisis“. Representatives of international organizations also condemned “the use of lethal force in the context of policing and invited all stakeholders and asked them to always prioritize dialogue, concertation and peaceful channels for crisis resolution”.
Amnesty International demands an investigation
The international human rights organization demands that “the Malian authorities must immediately investigate the circumstances of the deaths of at least 11 people, including a 15-year-old minor, during the weekend demonstrations. They must comply with their constitutional and international obligations regarding respect for the freedom of peaceful assembly and the prohibition of the excessive use of force”.
“At least 80 demonstrators were wounded during the crackdown by the security forces. A rigorous, impartial and independent investigation must be carried out as soon as possible and bring to justice all those suspected of homicide or other human rights violations against the demonstrators”, insisted Amnesty International in its press release. It also claims that “the decision to disrupt access to the Internet and social networks like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or Messenger during the days of the demonstrations constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of expression”, the statement said.
The International Criminal Bar has an eye on the situation
The situation in Mali is also of concern to the International Criminal Bar. In a press release, the BPI said that it “has been monitoring the situation in Mali with particular attention for weeks”.
“The disproportionate interventions by the police on July 10 and 11 have dramatically darkened the picture. We demand that those responsible for these killings be held accountable. Precisely because of the impunity enjoyed by those who have perpetrated killings in the north and center of the country for months, outraging the Malian people, the police must be exemplary. Law enforcement officials must be held accountable for their actions, like those who massacre and defy the law in a bloody country”, said Dragos Chilea, president of the BPI. The international bar organization invites the Malian parties to dialogue.
The International Criminal Court soon to be seized
At a press conference on Tuesday, July 14, M5 officials announced a new demonstration in three days. They also intend to seize the International Criminal Court. “We will first visit the wounded. A collective prayer and sacrifice will be organized on July 17 in memory of the victims. A group of lawyers has already been formed to file a complaint with the ICC to situate responsibility for the massacres”, said Mountaga Tall, one of the officials of the M5. The lawyer assured that the 10 commandments of civil disobedience remain in force.
An ECOWAS mission expected this Wednesday
In a statement released on Tuesday evening, the presidency announced the arrival of a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States. “As part of the facilitation of dialogue between the parties to the ongoing political crisis, an ECOWAS mission is expected in Bamako on Wednesday July 15, 2020.
It will be led by His Excellency Jonathan Goodluck, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and will include presidents of constitutional courts in accordance with the announcement made by the Head of State, His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in his previous addresses”, specifies the note.