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Mali facts and history in brief

The Republic of Mali, North Africa

The Republic of Mali is a country in west Africa, formerly a French colony.

History Malians express great pride in their ancestry.
Mali is the cultural heir to the succession of ancient African empires -- Ghana, Malinke, and Songhai -- that occupied the West African savannah.
These empires controlled Saharan trade and were in touch with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern centres of civilisation.
The Ghana Empire, dominated by the Soninke people and centred in the area along the border of the modern states of Mali and Mauritanian, was a powerful trading state from about AD 700 to 1075.
The Malice Kingdom of Mali had its origins on the upper Niger River in the 11th century.
Expanding rapidly in the 13th century under the leadership of Sundiata Keita, it reached its height about 1325, when it conquered Timbuktu and Gao.
Thereafter, the kingdom began to decline, and by the 15th century, it controlled only a small fraction of its former domain.
The Songhai Empire expanded its power from its center in Gao during the period 1465-1530.
At its peak under Askia Mohammad I, it encompassed the Hausa states as far as Kano (in present-day Nigeria) and much of the territory that had belonged to the Mali Empire in the west.
It was destroyed by a Moroccan invasion in 1591.
French military penetration of the Sudan (the French name for the area) began around 1880.
Ten years later, the French made a concerted effort to occupy the interior.
The timing and method of their advances were determined by resident military governors.
A French civilian governor of Sudan was appointed in 1893, but resistance to French control did not end until 1898, when the Malinké warrior Samory Touré was defeated after 7 years of war.
The French attempted to rule indirectly, but in many areas they disregarded traditional authorities and governed through appointed chiefs.
As the colony of French Sudan, Mali was administered with other French colonial territories as the Federation of French West Africa.
In 1956, with the passing of France's Fundamental Law (Loi Cadre), the Territorial Assembly obtained extensive powers over internal affairs and was permitted to form a cabinet with executive authority over matters within the Assembly's competence.
After the October 4, 1958 French constitutional referendum, the "Republique Soudanaise" became a member of the French Community and enjoyed complete internal autonomy.
In January 1959, French Sudan joined Senegal to form the Mali Federation, which became fully independent within the French Community on June 20, 1960.
The federation collapsed on August 20, 1960, when Senegal seceded. On September 22, Soudan proclaimed itself the Republic of Mali and withdrew from the French Community.
President Modibo Keita, whose party (Union Soudanaise du Rassemblement Democratique Africain --US/RDA) had dominated preindependence politics, moved quickly to declare a single-party state and to pursue a socialist policy based on extensive nationalisation.
A continuously deteriorating economy led to a decision to rejoin the Franc Zone in 1967 and modify some of the economic excesses.
On November 19, 1968, a group of young officers staged a bloodless coup and set up a 14-member Military Committee for National Liberation (CMLN), with Lt. Moussa Traore as president.
The military leaders attempted to pursue economic reforms, but for several years faced debilitating internal political struggles and the disastrous Sahelian drought.
A new constitution, approved in 1974, created a one-party state and was designed to move Mali toward civilian rule.
However, the military leaders remained in power.
In September 1976, a new political party was established, the Democratic Union of the Malian People (UDPM), based on the concept of democratic centralism.
Single-party presidential and legislative elections were held in June 1979, and Gen. Moussa Traoré received 99% of the votes.
His efforts at consolidating the single-party government were challenged in 1980 by student-led anti-government demonstrations, which were brutally put down, and by three coup attempts.
The political situation stabilised during 1981 and 1982, and remained generally calm throughout the 1980s.
The UDPM spread its structure to Cercles and Arrondissements across the land.
Shifting its attention to Mali's economic difficulties, the government approved plans for cereal marketing liberalisation, reform in the state enterprise system, new incentives to private enterprise, and worked out a new structural adjustment agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
However, by 1990, there was growing dissatisfaction with the demands for austerity imposed by the IMF's economic reform programs and the perception that the president and his close associates were not themselves adhering to those demands.
As in other African countries, demands for multi-party democracy increased.
The Traore government allowed some opening of the system, including the establishment of an independent press and independent political associations, but insisted that Mali was not ready for democracy.
In early 1991, student-led anti-government rioting broke out again, but this time it was supported also by government workers and others.
On March 26, 1991, after 4 days of intense anti-government rioting, a group of 17 military officers arrested President Traore and suspended the constitution.
Within days, these officers joined with the Co-ordinating Committee of Democratic Associations to form a predominantly civilian, 25-member ruling body, the Transitional Committee for the Salvation of the People (CTSP).
The CTSP then appointed a civilian-led government.
A national conference held in August 1991 produced a draft constitution (approved in a referendum January 12, 1992), a charter for political parties, and an electoral code. Political parties were allowed to form freely. Between January and April 1992, a president, National Assembly, and municipal councils were elected. On June 8, 1992, Alpha Oumar Konare, the candidate of the Association for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA), was inaugurated as the president of Mali's Third Republic.
In 1997, attempts to renew national institutions through democratic elections ran into administrative difficulties, resulting in a court-ordered annulment of the legislative elections held in April 1997.
The exercise, nonetheless, demonstrated the overwhelming strength of President Konare's ADEMA party, causing some other historic parties to boycott subsequent elections.
President Konare won the presidential election against scant opposition on May 11.
In the two-round legislative elections conducted on July 21 and August 3, ADEMA secured over 80% of the National Assembly seats.

Under Mali's 1992 constitution, the president is chief of state and commander in chief of the armed forces.
The president is elected to 5-year terms, with a limit of two terms.
The president appoints the prime minister as head of government.
The president chairs the Council of Ministers (the prime minister and currently 22 other ministers, including 6 women), which adopts proposals for laws submitted to the National Assembly for approval.
The National Assembly is the sole legislative arm of the government.
It currently consists of 147 members.
Representation is apportioned according to the population of administrative districts.
Election is direct and by party list.
The term of office is 5 years.
The Assembly meets for two regular sessions each year.
It debates and votes on legislation proposed either by one of its members or by the government and has the right to question government ministers about government actions and policies.
Eight political parties, aggregated into four parliamentary groups, are represented in the Assembly.
ADEMA currently holds the majority; minority parties are represented in all committees and in the Assembly directorate.
Mali's constitution provides for a multi-party democracy, with the only restriction being a prohibition against parties based on ethnic, religious, regional, or gender lines.
In addition to those political parties represented in the National Assembly, others are active in municipal councils.
Administratively, Mali is divided into eight regions and the capital district of Bamako, each under the authority of an appointed governor.
Each region consists of five to nine districts (or Cercles), administered by commandants.
Cercles are divided into communes, which, in turn, are divided into villages or quarters.
Plans for decentralisation have begun with the establishment of 702 elected municipal councils, headed by elected mayors.
Further plans envision election of local officials, greater local control over finances, and the reduction of administrative control by the central government.
Mali's legal system is based on codes inherited at independence from France.
New laws have been enacted to make the system conform to Malian life, but French colonial laws not abrogated still have the force of law.
The constitution provides for the independence of the judiciary.
However, the Ministry of Justice appoints judges and supervises both law enforcement and judicial functions.
The Supreme Court has both judicial and administrative powers.
Under the constitution, there is a separate constitutional court and a high court of justice with the power to try senior government officials in cases of treason.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Mali
conventional short form: Mali
local long form: Republique de Mali
local short form: Mali
former: French Sudan and Sudanese Republic
Data code: ML
Government type: republic
Capital: Bamako
Administrative divisions: 8 regions;
Gao, Kayes, Kidal, Koulikoro, Mopti, Segou, Sikasso, Tombouctou.
Independence: 22 September 1960 (from France)
National holiday: Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic, 22 September (1960)
Constitution: adopted 12 January 1992
Legal system: based on French civil law system and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Court (which was formally established on 9 March 1994); has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Amadou Toumani Touré(since 8 June 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Ousmane Issoufi Maiga(since April 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; prime minister appointed by the president
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (147 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Bamako Capital District, Gao, Kayes, Kidal, Koulikoro, Mopti, Ségou, Sikasso, Tombouctou.


Map of Mali

(Click to enlarge)

Location: Western Africa, southwest of Algeria
Geographic co-ordinates: 17 00 N, 4 00 W
Area: total: 1.24 million km², land: 1.22 million km², water: 20,000 km²
Land boundaries (landlocked): total: 7,243 km, bordered by: Algeria 1,376 km, Burkina Faso 1,000 km, Guinea 858 km, Côte d'Ivoire 532 km, Mauritania 2,237 km, Niger 821 km, Senegal 419 km

Climate: subtropical to arid; hot and dry February to June; rainy, humid, and mild June to November; cool and dry November to February
Terrain: mostly flat to rolling northern plains covered by sand; savannah in south, rugged hills in northeast.

Natural resources: gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, hydropower note: bauxite, iron ore, manganese, tin, and copper deposits are known but not exploited.

Land use: arable land: 2%, permanent crops: 0%, permanent pastures: 25%, forests and woodland: 6%, other: 67% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 780 km² (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: hot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons; recurring droughts.
Environment - current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching.

Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert.
Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger River.
About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labour force is engaged in farming and fishing.
Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities.
Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid and vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices for cotton, its main export.
Since 1997, the government continued its successful implementation of an IMF-recommended structural adjustment program that is helping the economy grow, diversify, and attract foreign investment.
Mali's adherence to economic reform, and the 50% devaluation of the African franc in January 1994, has pushed up economic growth.
Several multinational corporations increased gold mining operations in 1996-1998, and the government anticipates that Mali will become a major Sub-Saharan gold exporter in the next few years.

Demographics Mali's population consists of diverse Sub-Saharan ethnic groups, sharing similar historic, cultural, and religious traditions.
Exceptions are the Tuaregs and Maurs, desert nomads, related to the North African Berbers.
The Tuaregs traditionally have opposed the central government.
Starting in June 1990, armed attacks in the North by Tuaregs seeking greater autonomy led to clashes with the military.
In April 1992, the government and most opposing factions signed a pact to end the fighting and restore stability in the north.
Its major aims are to allow greater autonomy to the north and increase government resource allocation to what has been a traditionally impoverished region.
The peace agreement was celebrated in 1996 in Timbuktu during an official and highly publicised ceremony called "Flamme de la Paix"--(peace flame).
Historically, good interethnic relations throughout the rest of the country were facilitated by easy mobility on the Niger River and across the country's vast savannahs.
Each ethnic group was traditionally tied to a specific occupation, all working within close proximity.
The Bambara, Malinke, Sarakole, and Dogon and Songhay are farmers; the Fulani, Maur, and Tuareg are herders; while the Bozo are fishers.
In recent years, this linkage has shifted as ethnic groups seek diverse, non-traditional sources of income.
Although each ethnic group speaks a separate language, nearly 80% of Malians communicate in Bambara, the common language of the marketplace.
Malians enjoy a relative harmony rare in African states.
Population: 11,340,480 (July 2002 est.) Nationality: noun: Malian(s), adjective: Malian
Ethnic groups: Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke), Peul 17%, Voltaic 12%, Songhai 6%, Tuareg and Moor 10%, other 5%
Religions: Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%
Languages: French (official), Bambara 80%, and numerous other African languages.

This information was updated 3 Dec 2004.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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