Mali’s Government Resigns | Insiders' Newsletter

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The follow-up

Drone strikes in Tripoli

Last week we highlighted the risk that the situation in Libya – and particularly for residents in Tripoli – is set to deteriorate and, unfortunately, that is exactly what appears to be happening.

Khalifa Haftar's side, with backing from several regional governments, began airstrikes on the capital over the past week, including the use of drones.

For full updates on the Tripoli offensive:

Discuss with @_andrew_green on Twitter

The follow-up

Small concessions fail to appease Sudanese protesters

Sudan's military toppled former President Omar al-Bashir after almost 30 years in power. The junta's front man then stepped aside after only one day, taking with him the country's top prosecutors and the feared intelligence chief.

What seems like groundbreaking change in one of the world's most oppressive dictatorship has so far failed to appease the resistance, which continues to demand an immediate transfer of power to civilian leadership and free and fair elections for a new head of state.

Get more insight into the developments in Sudan:

Discuss with @PeterDoerrie on Twitter

What everyone is talking about

Mali's government quits

The essentials: Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga announced the resignation of his government on April 18. After consulting the majority and opposition in parliament, President Keita (generally known as IBK) nominated outgoing minister of finance Boubou Cisse as Maiga's successor, who will now form a new cabinet.

The context: After 1 year and 108 days in office, Maiga actually had one of Mali's longer stints as prime minister. Including him, only seven of Mali's 16 Prime Ministers since 1992 managed to stay in office longer than a year.

Maiga was also considered the strongest of IBK's Prime Ministers and contributed significantly to the latter's re-election in 2018. IBK stood by Maiga until the end. The international community generally viewed him favourably, especially when compared to the performance of other politicians since the escalation of Mali's instability in 2012.

In the international press, Maiga's resignation is mostly interpreted as a result of the devastating massacre of at least 160 ethnic Fulani in central Mali in March. But the massacre and a generally deteriorating security situation was likely only the straw that broke the camel's back.

Maiga was already under pressure from the powerful clerical establishment of Mali, which had held several mass rallies in Bamako to demand his resignation over Maiga's perceived insufficient conservatism on social issues. Mali was also rocked by several strikes and cuts to government budgets didn't make Maiga any friends, either.

Maiga also suffered from insufficient support in parliament. Coming from one of the smaller parties supporting IBK, his elevation created rivalries with the leaders of other parties and the opposition argued that he was responsible for election irregularities that secured IBK's victory in 2018. Maiga's resignation preempted a vote by the National Assembly on censure, the first in Mali's history to be brought jointly by members of the majority and opposition.

The good: Despite being seen as more effective than his predecessors, Maiga clearly didn't have the situation under control. Maybe a new Prime Minister can do better.

The bad: The likelihood that Boubou Cisse can substantially outperform Maiga is low. On security, it is actually IBK who makes major decisions leaving little room for the Prime Minister to influence events.

The future: Cisse is a respected economist and considered an apolitical technocrat, which may make cooperation with the National Assembly easier. But his appointment will not resolve Mali's many problems. Given the country's political system, which puts the President at the center of decision making and the continued general intransigence of Mali's political elite, together with an international community that is primarily interested in short-term suppression of terrorist groups and migration, a further deterioration of Mali's crisis is the likeliest outcome.

Discuss with @PeterDoerrie on Twitter

What we are talking about

South Sudan’s grinding peace

The essentials: The Pope may have kissed his feet, but Riek Machar is still dragging them – requesting a six month extension on the current phase of a South Sudan's peace deal.

The background: Two weeks ago Pope Francis knelt in front of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Machar, who heads the opposition, and kissed their feet, while begging them to maintain a fragile peace in the country. But with a key deadline looming in the peace agreement that the two men signed in September, Machar requested an extension, saying security arrangements are not yet adequate for him to return to Juba and take up his position in a transitional government.

For analyses on the good, bad and future of South Sudan:

Discuss with @_andrew_green on Twitter

Continental health corner

One disease, but vastly different outbreaks

Recent measles outbreaks in parts of the United States and Israel have received significant attention, but parts of Africa are at the most risk as the disease spreads at rates that are unprecedented in recent history.

Reported cases of the highly infectious disease are up 300 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to the World Health Organization, compared to the same period in 2018.

Keep up to date with the health issues on the continent:

Discuss with @_andrew_green on Twitter

Photo of the week

Gorilla selfie wins internet

A park ranger posing with gorillas in Virunga Park,  Democratic Republic of Congo, has won the Internet this week. The selfie has focused attention on the plight of the world's last mountain gorillas. Caught in a bloody civil war that has killed about six million, the species' population declined to about 1000. Ndakazi and Ndeze, the two posers in the picture, are orphaned.

Poaching and logging for charcoal - which threatens their habitat - are part of many threats the great apes face. Ranger Mathieu Shamavu, the selfie-taker, is one of 600 rangers in Virunga National Park risking their lives protect them. The rangers put themselves in the line of fire of desperate poachers and loggers. It's paying off: A recent census shows a steadily growing population again.

Discuss with @Shollytube on Twitter

What else?

If you have the time, read these!

For in-depth insights into Africa’s goings-on and finely curated information:

The Africa Insiders' Newsletter is a collaboration between and @PeterDoerrie, with contributions from @_andrew_green and @Shollytube and assistance from Stella Nantongo. Part of the subscription revenue is funding in-depth and freely accessible reporting and analysis on African Arguments.