- "We talked about everything that concerns this crisis and the country in general," Dicko said.
- The talks come after thousands of protesters gathered in the streets on two different occasions last month.
- The protests have been dubbed “Movement of 5 June- Rally of Patriotic Forces.”
The President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, has finally met the leader of a protest movement dubbed, “Movement of 5 June.” A video posted by the presidency showed the meeting between the president and Mahmoud Dicko, an influential imam and prominent religious leader.
“We talked about everything that concerns this crisis and the country in general. I think that with the will of everyone and all the parties concerned, we will, God willing find a solution,” Dicko said in the video. He added that, as an Imam, his major role is ensuring peace in the country and around the world.
The talks come after thousands of protesters gathered in the streets on two different occasions last month calling for the resignation of the president. The first was held on June 5, and the second on June 19. The protests have been dubbed “Movement of 5 June- Rally of Patriotic Forces.”
A coalition of opposition group that is led by Dicko has been demanding political and economic reforms. It is alleged that the opposition sent to the president demanding his resignation. The resignation calls has been prompted by the rise in militants and inter-communal violence in the country.
Political tensions in the country began after the disputed legislative election that was held in March. The country’s economy is also said to be worsening amid the coronavirus pandemic. Corruption is another big problem in the country. The protesters said that not much was being done to fight corruption or fix the ailing economy.
The president had earlier pledged to form a new government, inclusive of the opposition, but despite the negotiation between the two groups, the protests took place as scheduled.
The talks between the two side are being mediated by the West African Regional bloc, ECOWAS. The organization was instrumental in ensuring that the country returned to democracy in 2013, when Keita was elected. Keita secured his second five-year term in 2018.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed by the insurgents, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes due to the ever rising insurgency. Two days ago, at least nine Malian soldiers were killed in an ambush in Guoari, one of the villages where 31 civilians were massacred the day before. The 31 civilians were killed and dozen others wounded when unidentified gunmen on motorbikes attacked villages in Mopti region.
Last month, two United Nations peacekeepers, Egyptian nationals, were killed after unidentified armed men attacked their convoy. A day later, an ambush on military convoy left 24 soldiers dead and dozens more missing. The violence in the country has since spread to its neighbors, Niger and Burkina Faso. According to UN figures, about 4,000 people were killed in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in 2019, and thousands others displaced.
Keita, who secured his second five-year term in 2018, has led. the country since 2013, after Mali’s previous ruler, Amadou Toumani Touré, was overthrown in a military coup in 2012. Touré had spent a decade in power. The French-led military operation ousted the Islamic extremists from power.
Throughout Keita’s leadership, the militants have been attacking the country’s military personnel and the United Nations peacekeepers. The militants, with links to al-Qaeda and Islamic State, have expanded the reach to central Mali, causing animosity and violence between ethnic groups in the region.