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17 Apr 2020 | 09:23 PM UTC

Mali: Opposition protests reported in Bamako April 13-17 /update 1

URD supporters protest in Bamako April 13-17 for release of party leader; further associated demonstrations likely

security
MLI

Event

Supporters of the opposition Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) party gathered on Friday, April 17, in the capital Bamako to demand the release of party leader Soumaila Cisse. Reports indicate that demonstrations have taken place over the past few days from Monday, April 13, through Friday. A large rally was organized from 10:00 (local time) at Monument de l'Independence and traffic disruptions were reported as demonstrators blocked roads.

Another protest also took place in Bamako on Friday. According to the US Embassy, the Teachers' Union called for a sit-in demonstration to take place at the Monument de la Paix at 08:00. The demonstrations were not approved by Malian authorities and took place despite the current measures in place to combat the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Further associated demonstrations are likely in the near term. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are anticipated around all protests.

Context

Soumaila Cisse was reportedly kidnapped along with six others on March 25 in Tombouctou region. Reports indicate that Cisse and his delegation were campaigning near Niafunke, when unidentified gunmen ambushed the group.

Due to the presence of various armed groups, Mali's northern and central regions remain unstable despite a French-led intervention launched in 2013 that drove many extremists from their strongholds.

Advice

Individuals in Mali, notably in Bamako, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities. The security environment in Mali remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.

Due to the underlying terrorist and kidnapping threats prevalent in the country, all those present in Mali are advised to remain discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc. Individuals are also advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners, to remain vigilant at all times (especially in local markets, now used by terrorists as recruitment grounds), and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.