By Isaline Bergamaschi, 15 August 2013
Having experienced several waves of privatisation, the state is no longer seen as being a major provider of jobs or protection against the risks associated to climate conditions or the country’s fragile insertion into the global economy. Critics of the former regime led by Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) pointed to the fact that democratisation in Mali had gone hand in hand with what Bayart, Hibou and Ellis called ‚the criminalisation of the state‘.
Since the 1990s, successive governments were accused of distributing huge parcels of fertile land near the Office du Niger (an irrigated agricultural area near Ségou in south-central Mali) to international firms. Corruption scandals also came to light about the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria.
After a Boeing 727 carrying six tons of cocaine (coming from Latin America and transiting in the Sahel on its way to Europe) landed near Gao in November 2009, the president and his ‚clan‘ were suspected of having connections with and protecting drug-traffickers by US authorities and the national press.
The army’s lack of preparation, equipment and unity – despite several US-sponsored military programmes and training – were evidenced during a quasi-improvised coup and multiple insurgent attacks in the North between late 2011 and early 2013. The corruption of high-ranking generals – suspected of having ‚eaten‘ the money and built spectacular houses for themselves in Bamako – was a central grievance of putschists and their supporters.