Mali. Again, the conflict between the state and Tuareg rebels flared up, despite previous peace agreements. The army offensive caused by grenade attacks against Tuareg government officials in the city of Gao in northern Mali at the turn of the year became a relatively short story. After the army captured several rebel bases and pushed the guerrilla leader Ibrahim Ag Bahanga into flight, hundreds of Tuaregans capitulated in a symbolically important ceremony in the city of Kidal in mid-February. The government now promised to make the investments for improved living conditions in the north that were envisaged in the peace treaties, but which the Tuaregs considered themselves to have been deceived. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for abbreviation ML which stands for the nation of Mali.
According to countryaah, a few months after the Tuareg uprising had subsided, a new armed conflict erupted in the desert, after Algerian Islamists from “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” had killed a British tourist. An intelligence officer was shot dead by al-Qaeda in the city of Timbuktu, whereupon the army launched an offensive against the Islamists. About 20 al-Qaeda members were reported killed in an army raid near the Algerian border. President Amadou Toumani Touré declared a “total fight” against al-Qaeda, and both Algeria and the United States came to the rescue with material support. The United States, which has warned of al-Qaeda’s increased operations in the Sahara since the early 2000s, provided trucks and communication equipment. Even the war-torn Tuaregs who had just made peace with the state promised to help in the fight.
At the beginning of August, Parliament adopted a new family law with a significantly strengthened legal position for women. The law was met by so vigorous protests from conservative Muslims that the president asked Parliament to review parts of the law to “preserve the social order”.
HUMAN AND ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY
With a population of 10,694. 000 residents, according to an estimate of 1998, the Mali has seen its demographic consistency grow, during the period 1990 – 98, at an annual average of 32 ‰, while the economy has recorded an average annual growth of the GDP equal to About 4 %. The urban district of the capital, Bamako, numbered 913. 000 residents in 1995. A major reform of administrative decentralization, which entered into force in 1997, established around 700 municipal administrations, replacing the previous 19. The revision of the local government structures is aimed at normalizing the northern regions, the scene of the anti-government rebellion of groups of Tuareg nomads.
In 1995 agriculture and other primary sector activities contributed to producing about 44 % of the national wealth, employing 84 % of the workforce. After the end of the terrible drought – which lasted with alternating phases from 1968 to 1986, upsetting the Malian economy and society – agricultural production returned to normal levels, and indeed in 1996 the economy of Mali benefited from a bumper crop of cotton, of which the country is the second largest African producer after Egypt. Exports of ginned cotton (which alone forms more than 50% Of the value of exports) and peanut constitute, together with livestock products, the major active voices in the trade balance, which on the other hand must register to passive substantial imports of cereals (54. 000 tonnes in 1998-99) to cope with the insufficiency of crops destined for the subsistence of a rapidly growing population.
The importance of the mining sector has been increasing since the exploitation of gold reserves has been successfully intensified since the end of the 1980s, in particular in the Sadiola mine (11 t per year, with reserves of 124 t). The manufacturing sector (about 7 % of GDP) is mainly based on the first processing of agricultural products (cotton, rice, sugar). About 78 % of the electricity generated in 1995 is of water origin. Starting in 1998 Mali has begun to receive electricity supplies from the plant operated by the Manantali dam, on the Senegal River, while plans are being made to interconnect the Malian grid with those of the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Ghana. The main imports consist of fuels (about 30 % of the total value), machinery, food, chemicals. In 1997, the arrival of 27 was registered. 000 tourists.
In 1997, the external debt was close to 3,000 million dollars; measures for the rebalancing of public accounts formulated in the mid-1990s in agreement with the International Monetary Fund provided for the accelerated privatization and restructuring of companies which remained under state control. However, economic growth remains held back by the high degree of dependence on imports and the small export base. To aggravate the financial crisis have contributed the huge expenses for the military apparatus, called to suppress the rebellion on the northern borders, as well as the costs associated with the initiatives aimed at integrating the Tuareg communities and welcoming the tens of thousands of refugees to the their return from neighboring states.