Mali Government Resigns Amid Ethnic Massacre
On April 19, Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and his whole government resigned from their posts, according to . The resignations come after the massacre of 160 Fulani herders by a vigilante group was revealed. The massacre took place on March 23 in the village of Ogossagou near the border with Burkina Faso.
The office of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said that it accepts the resignation of the prime minister and of the members of his government. Reuters reports that while there was no official reason for of the resignations, there was talk in Parliament of introducing a no-confidence motion due to the deadly nature of the massacre and the failure to control militias and Islamist militants.
According to The New York Times, the government of Mali had been coming under pressure in the months leading up to the massacre because of its handling of violence in the country’s Mopti region. The massacre was the last straw in a country that has been wracked with violence.
Members of the Dogon ethnic group, a hunting and farming community, are thought to have carried out the massacre. There has been a long history of tensions between the Dogon and the nomadic Fulani people over access to land and water.
The Fulani have been a source of contention in the country’s fight against Islamic terrorism. The Telegraph reports that the Fulani have been accused of supporting jihadist preachers. One preacher in particular, Amadour Koufa, was the most dangerous and was able to rise to prominence four years ago due to Fulani support. Koufa’s rise threatened the Dogon community, prompting the creation of its own self-defense groups with the aim of protecting against insurgents and the forces of dangerous individuals.
The militia group that carried out the massacre, called the Dan Nan Ambassagou, used Dogon support to target and attack the Fulani. After the massacre became public knowledge, the group was ordered to be dissolved and disbanded.
Following the group’s dissolution, thousands of people began protesting against government inaction. Survivors of the attack have been vocal in their support for the protests, calling the government slow and lazy for not doing anything to protect citizens. AP News reports that protesters want a new government that can control violence, works for its citizens, and diminish massacres.
People in Mali have grown tired of government forces failing to protect them and have singled out Prime Minister Maiga for not doing enough to prevent inter-communal violence. In addition to rising violence, protesters also raised concerns for falling living standards. Al Jazeera states that in Mali, the price of basic necessities has risen by 20 percent in the last year alone.
Mr. Maiga won elections in August with the promise of bringing change for Mali. Soon after, however, there were already calls to remove him from office and to withdraw United Nations peacekeeping forces from the country.