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Mali president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced his resignation on State television on late Tuesday, 18 August 2020.

This follows reports that military troops arrested and detained the President and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a suspected coup, according to the Chairman of the African Union Commission.

Read more: Keïta between a rock and a hard place

The actions taken by the country’s military seeks to resolve the government’s failure to address long-standing security, social and political issues.

According to exclusive comment received from Africa-focused strategic advisory firm Africapractice CEO Marcus Courage, President Keïta’s government was widely viewed as corrupt and ineffective, failing to curb protests and insecurity across the country. After several attempts from West African leaders to mediate a solution to the political crisis, yesterday the military stepped in, as they did in 1991 and 2012.

With parliament also dissolved, Mali is set to experience a period of deep uncertainty, complicated by an ongoing insurgency in the North.

According to Courage, the events in Mali could catalyse volatility elsewhere in the region, which is already experiencing pre-electoral febrility amid leaders’ attempts to hold on to power.

Regional volatility expected

Tensions and protests ahead of the October presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire are escalating after President Alassane Ouattara announced he will run for a third term in office. A similar situation could be unfolding in Guinea where two weeks ago, President Alpha Conde said he will contest again in the October elections. Burkina Faso is also to hold a general election in November, with an increasingly consolidated opposition, Courage highlights.

The situation in Nigeris precarious too, says Courage, with the government ill-equipped to confront a worsening security crisis, in spite of president Mahamdou Issooffou’s best efforts to reconcile rival ethic groups. “The French government has warned citizens against traveling outside of the capital of Niamey as militants linked to Boko Haram, Islamic State and al-Qaeda still carry out attacks. Earlier this month six French aid workers and their two Nigerien guides were shot dead by unidentified gunmen while visiting a giraffe sanctuary,” Courage notes.

The United Nations and African Union have both denounced the military takeover, and ECOWAS has imposed a blockade along the country’s borders and suspended financial links. The UN Security Council will meet later today.

Mining companies are monitoring the situation

ASX and LSE-listed Resolute Mining, who operates the Syama gold mine, located in the south of Mali on the border with Côte d’Ivoire, reported that its mine is continuing as normal with no impact to production or the safety and security of employees and contractors.

Despite this, the company said that it is closely monitoring developments in Mali following the resignation of the President and the subsequent dissolution of the government.

Resolute has operated Syama since 2003 under the well-established mining laws of Mali.

Meanwhile, AIM-listed Hummingbird Resources reported that it is also closely monitoring the situation in Mali following the resignation of the President.

There has been no current impact on Hummingbird’s operations and production at the Yanfolila mine, which is located some 280 km south west of the capital, Bamako.

The company’s security team is in regular contact with the operational and management team regarding the ongoing safety of Hummingbird’s staff, operations and assets. The safety of the company’s employees and contractors remains of the upmost importance.

Hummingbird has been operating in Mali since 2015 and in production since December 2017.

Moreover, gold producer B2Gold Corp., which is also monitoring the evolving political situation in Mali, says that mining operations at its Fekola mine have not been affected in any way and that it continues mining and milling operations as normal.

The Fekola Mine has sufficient supplies on hand to maintain its budgeted activities through the end of the third quarter and beyond if needed. The Fekola mill expansion remains on schedule. No operational days have been lost due to the political situation in the country and all of B2Gold’s mine personnel are safe. 

B2Gold said in a statement today that it will continue to monitor the situation and work to ensure that its mining operations continue normally, providing economic benefits and job creation both to the communities around the mine and to regional and national governments. Foreign investment and political stability in Mali are crucial for the country.

B2Gold has enjoyed a positive relationship with the Government of Mali from the beginning of its investment in the country, including, most recently, partnering with the government to assist the people of Mali in facing the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the mining sector. 

The State of Mali has a 20% ownership in the Fekola Mine, in addition to benefitting from royalties and taxes.