Chronology of key events in Mali, 1891–present

Niger River, Bamako

1891–1917: French colonial occupation

1891: The French colonial territory of Soudan Français (French Sudan) is created, including what today is Mali.

1916: Rebellions against the colonial administration in Ménaka and in Agadez (in present-day Niger) are brutally countered by the French military the following year.


1960–64: Independence and rebellion

1960: Mali achieves independence. Modibo Keïta becomes the country’s first president, and declares a single-party socialist state. 

1962: Keïta withdraws from the Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA) Franc Zone and establishes the Malian franc.

1962–64: The Alfellaga rebellion is launched from the Kidal region in northeastern Mali, with Malian Government troops targeting Tuareg communities. The events trigger a major Tuareg exodus to neighbouring countries.


1968–87: Political turmoil and devastating droughts

1968: Army officers led by Lieutenant Moussa Traoré remove President Modibo Keïta from power in a coup d’état.

1968–74: Mali is hit by serious droughts. Government officials are accused of misappropriating food aid.  

1979: Traoré becomes President after garnering 99 per cent of the votes in the presidential election, and the Union Démocratique du Peuple Malien (Democratic Union of the Malian People, UDPM) takes all 82 seats in the National Assembly.

1984: Severe inflation, caused by the 1967 reintroduction of the Franc Zone, results in widespread economic hardship.

1984–85: The worst drought in over a decade has serious effects on pastoralist communities and the rural economy in northern Mali.

1985: President Traoré is re-elected, unopposed, for a second six-year period. International media reports that over $1 billion has been secreted in overseas bank accounts.

The conflict over the mineral-rich Agacher strip on the border between Mali and Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso) culminates in an interstate conflict. After six days of fighting, the conflict ends and Mali makes territorial gains.

1986: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) decides that the Agacher Strip is to be split equally between Mali and Burkina Faso. 

1987: The UDPM signs a charter and sets up an investigatory commission to combat corruption. In December, nine people are sentenced to death for corruption.


1990–2007: Peace agreements and democratic elections

1990: Malian Government forces target the civilian Tuareg population, leaving an estimated 200 dead between October 1990 and January 1991. The government denies accusations by Amnesty International that it is holding and executing Tuaregs without trial.

1991: On 6 January the Tamanrasset Accord (PDF) is signed by the Malian Government and le Mouvement Populaire de l’Azaouad (the Azaouad Popular Movement, MPA) and le Front Islamique Arabe (the Islamic Arab Front of Azawad, FIAA). The Accord provides for the rebels’ demobilization and their subsequent integration into the armed forces, and stipulates that Malian Government forces will not have a mandate to interfere in internal political activities.

In March, after violent repression of an anti-government protest, President Traoré is arrested and ousted in a coup d’état. A transitional military–civilian committee takes over, led by General Amadou Toumani Touré.

1992: On 11 April the Pacte National (PDF), a comprehensive peace agreement between the Malian Government and umbrella groupings of Tuareg rebels, is signed. The pact calls for complete demilitarization of the north, greater economic and political integration of northern communities and integration of Tuaregs in ‘uniformed’ security forces.

In June Mali’s first democratic presidential election results in the inauguration of President Alpha Oumar Konaré. 

1994: Tensions worsen in the north between Songhai, Tuaregs and Arabs, resulting in the formation of a Songhai-based self-defense militia, the Mouvement Patriotique Ganda Koy (the Malian Patriotic Movement of the Ghanda Koy, MPMGK).

The Tamanrasset Accord is broken when the FIAA declares war on the Malian Government, resulting in a minor armed conflict.         

1995: The MPMGK and Front populaire pour la libération de l’Azawad  (the Tuareg Front for the Liberation of Azawad, FPLA) sign the Accords of Bourem. The FIAA declares a total ceasefire via Algerian mediators.

1996: A ‘Flame of Peace’ ceremony in Timbuktu, in which Malian Government representatives symbolically set fire to several thousand decommissioned weapons, marks the conclusion of the conflict.

1997: Konaré is re-elected as President. Parties from the opposition boycott the presidential elections, resulting in a low voter turnout.

2002: General Amadou Toumani Touré becomes the country’s second democratically elected President, despite allegations of vote fixing.

2005: Severe drought again has severe effects on rural communities, especially livestock-reliant communities in the north.

2006: Following raids on garrisons at Kidal and Ménaka, the Algiers Accords (PDF) are signed by the Malian Government and representatives from l’Alliance Démocratique du 23 mai pour le changement (the May 23, 2006 Democratic Alliance for Change, ADC), brokered by the Algerian Government. The peace agreement includes clauses on regional investment and reintegration of rebels into the armed forces.

2007: President Touré is re-elected for a second 5-year term.

Intensified attacks occur in the Kidal region after a Tuareg splinter group to the ADC, the Alliance-Touareg Nord Mali pour le Changement (Northern Mali Tuareg Alliance for Change, ATNMC), rejects the Algiers Accords. ATNMC claims its struggle is motivated by the poverty and neglect of the Kidal region.


2008–11: Increased violence and the emergence of new armed groups

2008: Brokered by the Algerians, a ceasefire agreement is concluded between the Malian Government and Tuareg, which led to a further incorporation of ex-combatant fighters into units of the Malian army, and the withdrawal of the Malian army from the Kidal region. However, the negotiation process was never joined by the ATNMC.

2009: Renewed fighting, initiated by claims for greater autonomy for the Kidal region, ends as Malian Government troops take control of the rebel groups’ bases. Tuareg rebels agree to cease hostilities and return to peace process as a part of the Kidal peace ceremony. Around 600 rebels, mainly from the ADC faction, hand in their weapons.

Clashes occur between the Malian Government and Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM) after the government’s announcement of ‘total war’ against AQIM. AQIM claims responsibility for the murder of 28 Malian soldiers and of a British hostage, captured in January in Niger.

In August an amended version of the Family Code law, aiming to strengthen women’s rights is adopted. The revisions are approved by conservative Muslim groups but denounced by civil society groups.

2010: President Touré announces a planned referendum for 2010 to revise national ‘institutional architecture’ and strengthen democracy.

The ‘Tamanrasset Plan’ is announced, calling for Algeria to cooperate with Mali, Mauritania and Niger in countering smuggling and terrorist activities. In May, a major joint multinational military exercise takes place under the United States military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM).

2011: Launch of the Programme spécial pour la paix, la sécurité et la Paix et le développement au Nord-Mali (Special Programme for Peace, Security and Development in the North, PSPDN) with a budget of around €50 million provided by international donors, primarily the EU.

The return of hundreds of Tuareg militants to Mali and Niger from Libya coincides with a series of rebel attacks in northern Mali.


2012: Coup d’etat and a renewed Tuareg rebellion

January: The Tuareg rebel group le Mouvement National pour la libération de l’Azaoud (the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, MNLA), created in 2011, stages a series of attacks in northern Mali. The Malian Government responds by bombarding a rebel position in Menaka, killing around 45 rebels. 

March: On 22 March President Touré is overthrown in a coup d’état. Amadou Haya Sanogo becomes leader of the military junta.

August: Following threats of expulsion from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra forms a new government of national unity in an effort to move towards democratic rule. Tensions continue between the junta leader Sanogo and members loyal to ousted President Touré.

September: Islamist groups consolidate their hold on the north. Le Mouvement pour l’unicité et le Jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, MUJAO) seizes Douentza, a strategically important town located about 800 kilometres northeast of the capital, Bamako.

UN Security Council Resolution 2085 is unanimously adopted, authorizing the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) for an initial period of one year.

December: Soldiers arrest interim Prime Minister Diarra, forcing him to resign, proving that the military junta remains in power.


2013: International interventions

January: On 10 January Ansar Dine captures the town of Konna in central Mali. Malian President Traoré requests military assistance from France, which launches Operation Sérval.

March: On 5 March Mali’s Council of Ministers announces the creation of a Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission to report on violations against human rights and make proposals on how to strengthen social cohesion and national unity.

The EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) begins its work, aiming to train and advise the Malian Armed Forces (MAF) for a period of 15 months, with a budget of €12 million.

The UN unanimously adopts UN Security Council Resolution 2100 establishing the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which begin operations on 1 July.

France says it will reduce its military deployment in Mali to 1000 troops by the end of 2013.

May: An international donor conference in Brussels pledges €3.25 billion to support development and peacebuilding efforts in Mali.

June: The Malian Government signs preliminary peace accords (PDF) with the MNLA and le Haut Conseil pour l’Unité de l’Azawad (the High Council for the Unity of Azawad, HCUA) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The accords call for the deployment of the MAF in the north and for fresh presidential elections.

August: Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta wins the presidential elections with over 77 per cent of the vote and a turnout of 46 per cent. The 2012 coup leader, Sanogo, agrees to step aside as the head of military reform, two weeks after being promoted to a four-star general.

Following the MNLA’s suspension of its participation in the Ouagadougou accords, tensions in the north increase and clashes erupt between the MNLA and the MAF in Kidal.

October: After Malian authorities released 23 insurgents, the MNLA, HCUA and MAA announce the resumption of their participation in peace accords signed in June.

Malian authorities announce that they are lifting international arrest warrants issued in February 2013 against four of the leaders of groups engaged in peace talks with the Malian Government. 

November: On 2 November, two French journalists are executed in the northern region of Kidal. On 5 November the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, states that France will stick to its timetable for reducing its total number of troops in Mali to 1000 by the end of 2013.

On 24 November the first round of parliamentary elections are held, with an electoral participation rate of less than 30 per cent.

December: On 14 December a suicide attack in Kidal results in the death of two Senegalese UN peacekeepers and destroys La Banque malienne de solidarité (Malian Solidarity Bank, BMS-SA), the only operating bank in Kidal.

On 18 December the UN Security Council issues a Presidential statement (S/PRST/2013/22), expressing ‘growing concern about the serious threats posed by drug trafficking and related transnational organized crime to international peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel region as pointed out in the United Nations integrated Strategy for the Sahel’.

On 15 December the second round of parliamentary elections is held, with a participation rate of less than 40 per cent. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s party, le Rassemblement pour le Mali (Rally for Mali, RPM) wins 115 of the 147 seats in the National Assembly.

2014: Instability continues

January: The French President, Francois Hollande, states that the bulk of the work has been accomplished in Mali. He also announces that French forces will be scaled down to 1600 by mid-February.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announces that despite the fact that the 2013 harvest was equivalent to the last five-year average, more than 20 million people in the Sahel region still experience food insecurity.

February: Northern Mali continues to struggle with instability, and armed groups and separatists remain active. On 13–14 February preparatory meetings are held in Bamako between representatives of the Malian Government, MINUSMA and representatives from the three Tuareg rebel groups (the MAA, MNLA and HCUA) and the self-defence militia Gandakoye. The meetings aim to revive the dialogue and the preliminary peace accords between the Government and the armed groups.

As of 28 February a total of 2300 French soldiers remain deployed in Mali and the strength of MINUSMA is 7380 personnel (including 7093 military personnel and 287 civilians).

March: On 21 March the Malian Parliament ratifies the establishment of the Commission, Vérité, Justice et Réconciliation (Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, CVJR). It replaces the former Commission Dialogue et  Réconciliation Nationale (National Commission for Dialogue and Reconciliation, CDR) established by the transitional  government in March 2013.  

As a follow-up to meetings held in Gao and Bamako in October and November 2013, a series of regional consultations (Assises nationales sur le nord du Mali) take place in Timbuktu. The main purpose of the meetings is to reinforce national unity in northern Mali and initiate reconciliation.

In a large-scale counter-terrorism operation led by French forces, about 40 persons are killed in Mali during March, including the militia leader Omar Ould Hamaha, the spokesman for the Movement for Unity and Jihad in the Islamic Maghreb (MUJWA).

On 14 March the reconstruction of the cultural heritage of Timbuktu’s mausoleums—which were destroyed after the fighting that broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels—commences.

April: With the aim of reducing the number of weapons circulating in northern Mali, MINUSMA states that it will commence the search for barracks in Kidal and Tessalit where armed rebels can be confined.

On 5 April President Keïta appoints a new prime minister after the resignation of the government. No timeframe has been given for the formation of a new government.


SIPRI's Mali Civil Society and Peacebuilding Project is implemented in partnership with the Coalition Nationale de la Société Civile pour la Paix et la Lutte contre la Prolifération des Armes Légères (National Coalition of Civil Society for Peace and the Fight Against the Proliferation of Light Weapons, Conascipal). 

Read more about Conascipal.