Independence day: Mali’s junta cancels the festivities

Mali’s ruling junta has cancelled the festivities planned to mark the anniversary of independence and is considering mobilising reservists in the face of rising tensions in the north of the country.

In a speech to the nation on Thursday, the head of the junta, Assimi Goïta, assured the nation that the defence and security forces would “once again be deployed throughout the country”.

He added: “After ten years of the presence of foreign forces on our soil, we understood that the logic was rather to maintain insecurity and keep us dependent. This is the fundamental reason why the Malian people have decided to take their security into their own hands.”

The Malian military are counting on Russia’s help to re-establish their sovereignty, even though vast stretches of land remain outside their control.

Assimi Goita took advantage of his speech to express his gratitude to Russia: “I would like, on this occasion, to salute Mali’s sincere partners, in particular the Russian Federation, whose efforts and support have been extremely useful to us in preserving our sovereignty in a national, regional and international context marked by multi-faceted tensions against a backdrop of divergent views”.

Tuareg-dominated groups resumed operations against the Malian army in the north in September after months of tension with the government. They had signed a peace agreement with the central government in 2015 that was supposed to put an end to the hostilities sparked by the independence and Salafist insurrections of 2012.