Opinions & Features July 26, 2021 at 02:00 pm

Man accused of trying to kill Malian leader dies in prison – What’s next?

Nii Ntreh July 26, 2021 at 02:00 pm

July 26, 2021 at 02:00 pm | Opinions & Features

After Eid prayers on July 20, the deceased, a young-looking man dressed in trousers and a white shirt, rushed at Goita with a knife. Photo: AFP

A man accused of trying to assassinate Asimi Goita, the Malian military leader who launched two coups in less than a year, has died in custody. Following a failed assassination attempt at Bamako’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday, the suspect, whose name has not been released, was apprehended. 

His health deteriorated during the inquiry, and he was hospitalized, but “unfortunately, he died,” the government stated in a statement on Sunday.

After Eid prayers on July 20, the deceased, a young-looking man dressed in trousers and a white shirt, rushed at Goita with a knife. The attacker was caught on the spot by Malian intelligence services and brought away. Goita was quickly backed up by his security, who easily defeated the assailant. He was uninjured throughout the incident.

Mali’s public prosecutor initiated an inquiry into the incident in a statement on July 21. Goita is no stranger to dissatisfaction with the people. The incident came at the conclusion of months of political instability in a country that has struggled to maintain peace since its 1960 independence from France.

Colonel Goita, who stated he was “quite well” a few hours after his attack, added, “When you are a leader, there are always dissatisfied individuals, and there are those who, at any moment, may want to attempt things to destabilize, try isolated acts.”

Since 2012, the West African nation has been in a state of political instability and widespread bloodshed. Last August, Goita, a special forces colonel in his late thirties, led a coup that deposed elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of demonstrations and a deadly rebellion over corruption.

Faced with worldwide censure, the military turned control over to a civilian-led transitional administration that vowed to restore civilian authority in February 2022. However, in late May, Goita, the transitional government’s vice president, deposed President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, accusing them of attempting to “wreck” the transfer. 

A new administration was presented in June, with military personnel playing major responsibilities, with Goita as interim president.

Despite being suspended by the West African group Ecowas and the African Union for an undemocratic power transition, Goita has firmly established himself as Mali’s president. He wields military strength over what was meant to be a civilian-led transitioning process as a career military officer.

The deceased was never brought before a court. His name has not been confirmed, but commissioner Sadio Tomoda stated late Tuesday that he was a teacher without providing any details.

An investigation into the event had been launched by prosecutors. The government stated on Sunday that the suspect’s death would not prevent the probe from continuing, “particularly because early evidence and information obtained suggest that he was not an isolated element.”

Mali’s violence, which began with independence and subsequently jihadist rebellions in the north, extended to the country’s center and south. This was accompanied by intercommunal disputes and criminal attacks in places where the state’s control is limited.

Over the last several years, the problem has extended to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, where al-Qaeda and Islamic State-affiliated organizations are also active. 

Since 2015, Bamako has witnessed a number of terrorist assaults and has been the subject of two coups in less than a year, despite being relatively unaffected by the rest of the country. The most recent coup, in May, was led by the same colonels as the August 2020 coup and resulted in Colonel Goita being sworn in as interim president. 

The military has wielded considerable authority. Colonel Gota and the new military-appointed administration, on the other hand, have promised that following the elections on February 27, 2022, civilian rule will be restored.

The military takeover in Mali has been harshly criticized by France, the anti-jihadist operation’s backbone. Following the second coup, it halted military cooperation and announced a substantial reduction in the size of its 5,100-strong Barkhane mission.

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