Plans for intervention in Mali, already contentious within the international community, now have potentially been set back by the second coup within the county in less than twelve months.
Soldiers in the Malian Army arrested Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra last night at his home, prompting him to later appear on national television to announce the resignation of his government. According to reports from the capital, the soldiers acted on the order of Capt. Amadou Sanogo, a low-level officer who engineered the short-lived coup in March that set off the current chain of events within the West African state. While forced to abdicate power officially in May, the coup orchestrators have continued to wield significant influence in Mali, as indicated by last nights’ incidents. President Diouncounda Traore has appointed Django Cissoko as prime minister in Diarra’s stead.
Diarra’s resignation portends an increased level of difficulty in winning approval at the United Nations for an African Union-backed plan for military intervention. In particular, the plan revolves around a relatively small number of international forces providing support to a bolstered and retrained Malian army in a push to reclaim territory in the north of the country from Islamist and ethnic Tuareg rebels. Sanogo had disagreed with Diarra’s desire to see the plan come to fruition, believing that the Malian military was able to handle the situation on its own.
The plan had already hit a road block in the U.N. Security Council as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has expressed considerable concern with the plan and a French initiative to transform the A.U. request into a U.N. mandate. Rice believes that France’s desire — which syncs up with that of the African Union — to approve intervention as soon as possible is premature, according to reports from a closed-door meeting of the Council. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has also voiced reservations about the plan’s viability, noting in a report to the Council that many details remain unresolved.
Reservations come in contrast to declarations that the situation grows increasingly dire due to the presence of terrorist organization Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) within areas of the North. The Washington Post on Monday ran an editorial calling for an immediate commencing of military strikes within Mali, to prevent AQIM from gaining further footholds.
Despite the sudden nature of the coup, and the deleterious effect it may have on Mali’s ability to reclaim territory, the reassertion of the army into Malian politics is not entirely surprising according to political scientist Jay Ulfelder. A forecaster of political turmoil, Ulfelder earlier this year listed Mali as number eleven among the top twenty most likely states to suffer a coup in 2012. In a blog post following the most recent events, Ulfelder noted that coups tend to be recursive, with attempts both successful and unsuccessful begetting further attempts.