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Military Coup d’État in Africa: case study of Mali

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Conflict Resolution
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International: $20
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Military Coups d’État has been the greatest factor responsible for the set back of the African continent in terms of democracy. Infact there are several coups in Africa since the independence of states like Sudan, Burundi, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Comoros, Benin, Nigeria Guinea Bissau, Togo, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho Madagascar, Liberia, Algeria, Mauritania, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Chad and recent coups in Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso and Mali with successful and unsuccessful rates. Therefore with the case study of Mali under Colonel Assimi Goïta’s administration this project will make use of the Relative Deprivation and Conflict theories; with a quantitative method design. The chapter two, three, four and five will cover the causes, impact, measures taken by the international community for a return to civil administration and summary of the findings, conclusion, suggested recommendations respectively



1.1 Background to the Study.

The military coups d’état in Mali can be traced right from the first coup which took place in 1968 overthrowing the government of Modibo Keïta by Moussa Trăire and other military officers.

President Modibot Keïta, father of Malian independence, had ruled a socialist government since 1960, supported by his party, the Sudanese Union – African Democratic Rally (US-RDA). However, his politics faced economic difficulties. In 1966, he suspended the constitution and the parliament, replaced by a Comité National de Défense de la Révolution with full powers. The population was increasingly dissatisfied by the government. A coup was plotted by Malian junior officers, in particular lieutenants Moussa Traoré, Tiécoro Bagayoko, Kissima Doukara, Youssouf Traoré and Filifing Sissoko, and non-commissioned officers such as adjudant-chef Soungalo Samaké. The Malian senior officers had little or no control on their subordinates.

Unlike many putsches in French former colonies, this one was not supported by foreign actors. The two prominent organizers of pro-Western coups in Africa, Houphouët-Boigny, President of Ivory Coast, and Jacques Foccart, adviser for African affairs of Charles de Gaulle, President of France, were surprised by the coup. (Pierre Houpert published on the 19 November 2018)

In 1968, Traoré had himself led a military coup d’état, ousting the first president of Mali, Modibo Keïta, and making himself the second. On 25 October 1990, opposition to his decades-long rule coalesced into the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA), an umbrella organization for opposition groups. Unrest grew as the people blamed the regime’s corruption and mismanagement for the economic troubles they faced. Further, Traoré had to institute austerity programs to satisfy the International Monetary Fund, causing increased hardship for all but the rich.

ADEMA and other pro-democracy groups demanded the end of the one-party state. On 22 March, tens of thousands of students and others marched through the streets of Bamako, the nation’s capital. Government soldiers fired on the peaceful demonstrators, killing 28 and setting off days of rioting. Sources vary as to the toll: the opposition claimed 148 killed and hundreds wounded, while Traoré said there were 27 deaths. Traoré declared a state of emergency and met with opposition leaders. He offered concessions, but refused to step down as they demanded. A general strike was called for 25 March. This time, the soldiers had had enough and did nothing to stop it. (Katherine Nesbitt and Stephen Lunes published April 2009)

Tuareg rebels launched a major offensive against Mali’s security forces and military in a bid to seize the northern town of Kidal on 6 February 2012. Some loyalist Tuareg fled to the city of Bamako, fearing reprisals after violent demonstrations in the first week of February. The Tuareg rebels had been bolstered by an influx of battle-hardened, well-armed fighters returning from the Libyan Civil War, to which they had traveled to fight for Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader who was deposed and killed. On 8 February, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) seized the Mali-Algeria border town of Tinzaouaten as Malian soldiers crossed into Algeria. Islamist Ansar Dine demanded the imposition of Islamic law in northern Mali, while the secular Tuareg nationalist Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) have stated they want an autonomous, if not completely independent, homeland.

The coup attempt followed weeks of protests of the government’s handling of a nomad-led rebellion in the country’s north, which had dropped Touré’s popularity to “a new low”. Soldiers demanded more weapons and resources for their campaign against the rebels, and were dissatisfied with a lack of government support for the army, some soldiers having been sent to the front without sufficient food. Touré was to leave office when his term expires after the presidential election (l’INA éclaire l’actu published on the 19 August 2020).

Protests in Mali had been ongoing since 5 June, with protesters calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. Protesters were displeased with the government’s management of the ongoing insurgency, alleged government corruption, the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, and a floundering economy. Eleven deaths and 124 injuries were reported during the protests. (Jemma Challenger, February 22, 2020)

Nine months prior to the 2021 coup, in August 2020, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was removed from power by a military alliance. This followed months of unrest in Mali following irregularities in the March and April parliamentary elections and outrage against the kidnapping of opposition leader Soumaila Cissé. On 18 August 2020, members of the military led by Colonel Assimi Goïta and Colonel-Major Ismaël Wagué in Kati, Koulikoro Region began a mutiny. President Keïta, and Prime Minister Boubou Cissé were arrested, and shortly after midnight Keïta announced his resignation, saying he did not want to see any bloodshed.

Following Keïta’s resignation, on behalf of the military officers, Wagué announced the formation of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), and promised to hold elections in the near future. On 12 September 2020, CNSP agreed to an 18-month political transition to civilian rule. Shortly after, Bah N’daw was named interim president by a group of 17 electors, with Goïta being appointed vice president. The government was inaugurated on 25 September 2020.

On 18 January 2021, the transitional government announced that the CNSP had been disbanded, almost four months after it had been promised under the initial agreement. (Danielle Paquett, May 25, 2021)

1.2 Statement of the Problem


The military coup d’état in Mali of August 18, 2020 led by Colonel Assimi Goïta, overthrew the democratically elected government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. The coup followed by months of protests and political unrest in the country, fueled by allegations of corruption, economic mismanagement and a deteriorating security due to the presence of jihadist groups in the north and center of the country. The coup was widely condemned by the international community including the AU, UN and ECOWAS, the military junta, known as CNSP initially promised to hold new elections. However, the military’s continued involvement in political process has raised concerns about the prospects for a return to civilian rule and the restoration of democracy in Mali.

Research Questions

  1. What are the causes of the military coup d’état in Mali?
  2. What are the impacts of the military coup d’état in Mali?
  3. What are the measures taken by the International Community to return of civilian administration in Mali?

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this research shall be divided into two, specific and general objectives.

1.3.1 The General Objectives

To examine the measures adopted by the international community to the return of civil rule

1.3.2 The Specific Objectives

  • To identify the causes of the causes of military coup d’étatin Mali.
  • To examine the impacts of the military coup d’étatin Mali.
  • To evaluate the measures taken by the International Community to the return of civil civil rule.
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