Imperialist and African rulers protest against the end of the reactionary regime – but workers and oppressed must take power in their own hand!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 19 August 2020, www.thecommunists.net
1. Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has announced his resignation late on Tuesday with immediate effect – three years before his final term was due to end. He also declared the dissolution of his government and the National Assembly. Hours before, Keita, his Prime Minister Boubou Cisse as well as finance minister Abdoulaye Daffe were seized by mutinying soldiers and brought to a military base in Kati outside the capital Bamako.
2. This mutiny is the latest event since Mali entered a deep political crisis in May when mass protests started against the rigged parliamentary elections which claimed a massive victory of Keita’s Rassemblement pour le Mali party (a member of the so-called “Socialist International”) and its allies. These large protests called for the resignation of Keita and were organized by the M5-RFP coalition – a bourgeois alliance of various forces like the thirty-party Front for Safeguarding Democracy (FDS), civil society organisations under the banner of Espoir Mali Koura (EMK), and the Coordination of Movements, Associations and Sympathizers (CMAS), led by the influential Muslim cleric Mahmoud Dicko. In the past weeks the regime had unsuccessfully tried to crush the protests with brute force resulting in the killing of at least 14 people.
3. Nouhoum Togo, a spokesman of the M5-RFP coalition, signalled support for the mutiny and said that it was "not a military coup but a popular insurrection". There were also spontaneous anti-government demonstrations cheering the soldiers’ actions, and some set fire to a building that belongs to Mali’s justice minister in the capital. There are indications that the mutiny was not initiated by the top brass of the army – which has been loyal to Keita in the past – but rather by lower ranking soldiers. These soldiers took weapons from the armoury at the barracks in Kati and detained senior military officers before carrying out their coup.
4. In contrast to the popular masses in Mali, imperialist powers and the Africa’s ruling classes have reacted with horror to the downfall of Keita. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France "condemns in the strongest terms this grave event." J Peter Pham, the US envoy to the Sahel, said on Twitter that the US was "opposed to all extra-constitutional changes of government". UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded "the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law" and convened a closed meeting of the UN Security Council for today afternoon. Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union, said he "energetically" condemned Keita and Cisse's arrest and called "for their immediate liberation". ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) denounced "the overthrow by putschist soldiers of the democratically elected government" and ordered the closing of regional borders with Mali as well as the suspension of all financial flows between Mali and its 15 member states.
5. The outrage of the ruling classes – both in the imperialist capitals as well as in Africa – about the fall of Keita is not surprising. The fallen ruler has been instrumental for them in the past years in order to suppress popular unrests and militant insurgencies in the region. MINUSMA – a foreign military mission with 15,600 soldiers and police led by France – is the second largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world. It has effectively transformed Mali into a semi-occupied country since the beginning of the French military intervention in early 2013 in order to crush the insurgency in the north of the country. In January 2020, French President Macron had summoned Sahelian leaders and made them call “for more French assistance”. As a result, Paris created the so-called “Operation Barkhane” / “Coalition for the Sahel” – an expanded military mission under the direct command of Paris. Unsurprisingly, the intervention of the former colonial power has provoked increasing popular protests in Mali. Since last year, a number of demonstrations took place protesting against the presence of the imperialist troops. According to a poll in Bamako in December 2019, over 80% of the population had a negative view of France and wanted Paris to leave the country.
6. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and other anti-imperialist organizations have sharply denounced the imperialist intervention from the very beginning. We have explained that, in contrast to their official claims, such Western-led military missions do not serve “the struggle against terrorism”. In fact, their purpose is only to secure the political and economic interests of French imperialism and other Great Powers in the region and to keep the local ruling classes in power. In addition, such military missions shall stop refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea and entering Europe.
7. The RCIT does not advocate a military coup as a legitimate means of the class struggle. We rather call for popular mobilizations, general strikes and armed insurrection as the methods to bring down reactionary regimes. However, we certainly do not shed a single tear for Keita – the fallen puppet ruler in the service of French and Western imperialism. While we fully understand the rejoice of the masses about the end of the Keita regime we warn them that power must not remain in the hands of small military cliques which are under no control of the people. Likewise we warn against any manoeuvres of bourgeois opposition politicians which might try to utilize the situation for their own purpose. Furthermore, it is likely that the imperialist Great Powers and the corrupt rulers in the region will attempt to manipulate the situation in order to secure their interests.
8. Brothers and sisters, distrust all generals, politicians and foreign powers! Trust only your own combat strength and your organizations! The RCIT calls the popular masses to organize themselves in action councils at work places, neighborhoods, universities and villages. Likewise it is important to build self-defense committees – as a first step towards workers and popular militias. An important task of the current struggle is to throw out the imperialist troops and their local allies! Close all foreign military bases! Power must not be left in the hands of the army or corrupt politicians. It is urgent to create a workers and poor peasants government based on popular committees of action. Likewise, the insurgent masses should convoke a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly. Such a perspective is part of our struggle for a united and socialist Africa free from imperialist oppression and capitalist exploitation!
International Bureau of the RCIT
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For the RCIT's analysis of Africa and the imperialist intervention we refer readers to our numerous articles and statements that are published on our website at: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/
In particular we refer to:
Down with French Neo-Colonialism in West Africa! Protest against the imperialist “Operation Barkhane” / “Coalition for the Sahel”! Joint Statement of Anti-Imperialist and Socialist Organisations, 12 February 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/joint-statement-down-with-french-neo-colonialism-in-west-africa/
RCIT: Expel French Imperialism from West Africa! Macron and his G5 Lackeys plan to intensify their colonialist “Operation Barkhane”, 15 January 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/expel-french-imperialism-from-west-africa/
RCIT: French Imperialism Lick its Wounds. 13 French soldiers died in Mali during colonialist combat mission, 29 November 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/mali-french-imperialism-lick-its-wounds/
RCIT: Somalia: Drive Out the AMISOM and Western Occupation Forces! Daring Guerrilla Attack against U.S. Army Base and EU Military Convoy, 30 September 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/somalia-drive-out-the-amisom-and-western-occupation-forces/
RCIT: Manifesto for the Revolutionary Liberation of Black Africa, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/manifesto-for-the-revolutionary-liberation-of-black-africa/