On 23 May, acting president Dioncounda Traore travelled to France for treatment of injuries sustained during demonstrations by pro-junta civilians and political parties two days earlier. Following the 22 March coup, the political landscape in Bamako has become increasingly polarised as the junta leader Amadou Sanogo negotiates with the regional body ECOWAS to select a civilian leader for the 12-month transitional government. Further, discontent within the Army has grown due to personal benefits awarded to Sanogo in ECOWAS negotiations in exchange for his acceptance of Dioncounda’s appointment as transitional leader. Growing economic pressures are likely to force the junta to accommodate ECOWAS demands for civilian leadership, lowering the risk of economic sanctions.
The arrest of around 50 people, including soldiers and members of pro-junta political parties, for the attack on Dioncounda indicates the junta is yielding to ECOWAS pressure. Further indicators would be Dioncounda’s return within a week, ECOWAS support for a national conference between political and civil society actors, and the awarding of concessions to other junta members.
The political impasse has resulted in declining tax revenues and suspension of donor aid, which contributed about 50% of the state’s budget. The government can only access a third of its budget, while banks have restricted access to credit and imposed caps on money transfers. The government’s inability to provide its share of funding has already resulted in the withdrawal of South African firm Illovo Sugar from its $312 million sugar and ethanol project.
The gold mining sector, which provides about 78% of export revenues, is likely to be targeted to boost revenues. On 16 May, the government adopted a proposal for a decree to increase the special commodities tax on gold from 3% to 5%, though this would not be applied retrospectively. While the revised mining code has been ratified, transition authorities have yet to implement it, presenting a growing risk that amendments will be introduced. The government is also likely to increase supervision of mining operations and audit mining exports to counter alleged fraud. The government will likely review controversial contracts signed under ousted President Toure’s government, such as the telecoms licence awarded to Monaco Telecom and Planor.
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