Tens of thousands of protesters gathered on June 19 at Independence Square in Bamako to demand the removal of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK). President of the Republic since 2013 he has behind him a long political career. He was Prime Minister from 1994 to 2000 and President of the National Assembly from 2002 to 2007.
According to Nouhoum Keita, Administrative Secretary of the Sadi party member of the democratic and popular movement M5 RPF, the main demand of the demonstrators is the departure of IBK.
(M5 RPF: National and Patriotic Front of the Malian People in which the Sadi party participates, and in which the Malian communists are militant). IBK transformed the country into a largely corrupt dictatorship in the service of French imperialism. In addition, he intends to legitimize a hereditary transmission of power to his son. While the democratic and national question, we will come back to this, constitutes a backbone of the protest, the worsening of the economic and social situation plays a part in the popular discontent.
Mali gained independence in 1960 and inherited the borders of colonization, that is to say two very different areas in terms of climate and population. A northern area belonging to the poor Sahelian and desert zone, partly populated by nomads, and a richer and more fertile south. Colonizers, all over the world, whether in Africa, Latin America or Asia, have largely used ethnic, cultural and economic differences to divide populations and weaken their resistance to colonization. In 1957, during the colonial period, there was in fact a French project to group the Saharan areas, thus allowing global military control over the mineral wealth of this area. The project never materialized due to the independence of the states concerned, but this clearly shows how the colonial power had economic objectives of plundering the region. (1)
The strategic position of northern Mali as a trans-Sahelian communication route has always sparked clashes over its control. French imperialism has encouraged, even armed, independence movements. From 1963 to 2012 there were no less than four rebellions for the independence of Azawad. Neglected by the government in Bamako, the populations of this area are abandoned by the central government and the situation of lawlessness is easily exploited by groups which operate there with near impunity. There are mainly AQIM, ANSAR DINE and MUJAO. The war in Libya led by NATO and in which France played a particularly important role, the assassination of Gaddafi and the dislocation of the Libyan state led to the retreat of armed groups towards the south and especially towards the Sahel. Already in 2013, the Serval operation ordered by F. Hollande aimed to secure the entire Sahelian zone in order to protect French economic interests and particularly mining interests in Mali, Niger and Mauritania with uranium, bauxite, gold, oil and gas…From this point of view control of northern Mali was of primary importance. The Bahkane operation launched in 2014, reinforced under E. Macron, succeeded the Serval and Sparrowhawk operations with the same objectives.
Military operations are just one aspect of it. The substance of the case is the will of the imperialist forces and especially of France, to go towards a "regionalization" of Mali which would allow an increased control and a protection of the zones useful for the exploitation of mining resources. The implementation of this "regionalization" is at the heart of the 2015 Algiers agreements. It can lead to the breakup of Mali within the framework of a federalization of the territory. This is what the patriotic forces fear:"The perspective is therefore the atomization of the vast unitary State of Mali into several micro-States carved out of geographically and socio-culturally coherent spaces, in the flesh of multi-ethnic communities living so far in harmony with the other components of the national global society." It is because the current leadership wants to go in tandem with the imperialist powers towards this division of Mali that the patriotic forces consider vital the departure of IBK: “A political transition must be put in place with the essential tasks of initiating political and institutional reforms that preserve our sovereignty, block the fatal project of planned partition of our country through the constitutional revision and the full application of the Algiers Agreement. But the transition must, above all, respond to urgent social demand (satisfaction of the demands of workers' unions, provision of basic services water, electricity, health and basic foodstuffs to the population). This will be possible and easy by carrying out a vigorous concomitant fight against corruption and financial crime which will make it possible to recover colossal sums of money owed to the State. "
This federalism, which reinforces geographical and social inequalities and promotes the ethnic dimension, is encouraged and shaped by the imperialist intervention in Mali. It has a specific objective: it is about destroying the Malian nation-State to replace it with weak structures easily corrupted that could not be very demanding vis-à-vis the multinationals. This trend of destruction of nation-States is not unique to Mali, it concerns all the states that imperialism is sharing and competing for in violent conflicts often led by proxy. Africa is a particularly active field in these confrontations. To the former colonizers who see it as a private preserve and seek to maintain their influence by all means, including military, are added all the old and rising imperialist powers who intend to take their share of the cake.
Our solidarity with the democratic and progressive forces of Africa while necessary is not enough: what we must work for is the constitution of a vast anti-imperialist movement. A movement that brings together revolutionary forces in imperialist countries and those of countries dominated by imperialism. This is what our Revolutionary Party COMMUNISTES is working on and that will soon materialize in Paris with an initiative against French imperialism in Africa.
(1) For complete information on the question, it is possible to listen to the conference of the Cercle Universitaire d’Études Marxistes delivered by A. Bourgeot: "The Saharo-Sahelian space, its political stakes in a context of systemic crisis of globalized capitalism ": http://www.cuem.info/?page_id=964