Tens of thousands of Malians took to the streets of Bamako on Friday to call for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose government is accused of corruption and failing to stem rising violence in northern and central parts of the country.
Police fired tear gas at attendees, who are protesting for the second time this month in a campaign organised by a coalition of opposition and civil society groups that includes the influential cleric, Mahmoud Dicko.
As pressure mounts on Keita, known as IBK, a delegation of regional leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called for the creation of a national unity government.
The delegation also urged the government to re-run parts of a recent legislative election after some results were overturned by the country’s constitutional court in a ruling that benefited Keita’s party and has deepened political tensions.
Keita was re-elected for a second five-year term in 2018 but has struggled to halt attacks by extremists linked to the so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and rising inter-communal violence that has displaced hundreds of thousands. A 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and armed groups continues to stagnate.
Following the protests on Friday, UN chief António Guterres appealed for calm.
"The secretary-general calls on all political leaders to send clear messages to their supporters to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action likely to fuel tensions," said Farhan Haq, a spokesperson for Guterres.
– Philip Kleinfeld
Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.
We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant.
But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced.
You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission.