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Rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (NMLA) stand guard outside the former governor’s office, Kidal, Mali, July 26, 2013 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Mali’s Veneer of Progress Giving Way to Violence, Divisions

Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015

Almost exactly three years ago, a coalition of rebel groups dominated by Tuareg fighters started a military campaign for the independence of Mali’s northern regions. The separatist campaign led to a coup by disgruntled soldiers that shattered Mali’s image as a beacon of democracy in West Africa. But the world was really shocked into taking notice when Islamist groups associated with al-Qaida took advantage of the power vacuum in the north to establish a quasi-state, raising the specter of what some called an “Afghanistan on Europe’s doorstep.”

Today, after a major French military intervention and the deployment of a large U.N. peacekeeping mission, the situation in Mali is ostensibly under control: A new president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, assumed office in September 2013 after an election widely considered free and fair. His government has been in peace talks with the separatists groups, even producing a draft agreement in November, proposing major changes to Mali’s political institutions. ...

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