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Reflecting on Coup Risk in Mali

June 14, 2022
Avery Reyna and Salah Ben Hammou


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Avery Reyna, a social sciences undergraduate student, and Salah Ben Hammou, a security studies Ph.D. student, both at the University of Central Florida, discuss what conditions lead to an increased coup risk specifically in Mali.

On May 17, the Malian government released a televised statement claiming that soldiers attempted to stage a coup against Interim President Assimi Goïta on the evening of May 11–12. The statement provided few details, simply claiming that the perpetrators were “anti-progressive” soldiers backed by a Western state to “break the revolution.” Ten individuals were allegedly detained, including Colonel Amadou Keita, an officer close to the ruling junta. Security measures in the capital, Bamako, were increased.

Observers were skeptical. They pointed to the vague nature of the allegations and a lack of troop movement on the evening of May 11. A French diplomatic source claims that the allegations serve as little more than a pretext to antagonize the French government (as the implied Western state). Others claim that the allegations help Goïta to consolidate his authority in the face of rising dissatisfaction in the military.

Ambiguities aside, CoupCast’s political forecasts for this past May reveal that Mali faced a significant coup risk. CoupCast relies on machine learning and information on historical legacies and contemporary developments to generate monthly estimates of a coup in every country. The type of information fed into the model comes from well-established findings in coup research. For instance, coups are more likely in countries with historical legacies of coup attempts, those experiencing periods of economic downturn and food instability, and those headed by military governments or fledgling democracies.

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance