On 15 August, Ibrahim Boubacar keita (called IBK), Mali’s most experienced politician, was officially pronounced winner of the smooth presidential elections after a landslide victory. Concerns over potential civil unrest after allegations of electoral fraud quickly disappeared when the runner-up admitted his defeat and congratulated IBK. After French-led forces intervened in northern Mali to prevent assorted jihadists from taking over the country, they heavily emphasised the importance  of democracy in preventing a return to extremisms and destabilisation. The remuneration is impressive indeed: the successful elections freed up EUR 3.25 billion in donor support for 2013-2015, far exceeding the country’s previous aid packet. It is anticipated to be used nationwide for infrastructure, job creation, social services and the development of the mining and agricultural sector. To conclude Mali’s post-coup transition, legislative elections are expected within six months.

Impact on country risk

It is fair to say that Mali’s political economic outlook is rather positive. However, the focus of the international community vis-à-vis President IBK’s policy will be on the pledged reform of the armed forces - in order to prevent defectors from destabilising the country again - but more importantly on the negotiation process between the government and Tuareg rebel groups. The dialogue on a definitive peace accord is to commence in October 2013. While Tuareg autonomy is virtually off the agenda, economic rewards (using the fresh donor support) in return for disarmament and demobilisation are anticipated to be the focal point of discussion. Tuareg separatists, Tuareg islamists and Arab groups agreed to form a single united front to negotiate the political demands of the Azawad people (four ethnicities: Songhai, Tuareg, Arab and Peul, living in Gao, Kidal or Timbuktu). Yet, distrust between these communities is high as since 2012, they have been fighting as much among each other as with the government, making the risk for disrupted peace negotiations considerable. The intensified inter-ethnic suspicions also increase the potential for violent attacks during the reintegration process. At the same time, there is a growing risk of targeted revenge killings between Tuaregs and those who supported the Malian army.  This could challenge durable peace and undermine the build-up of investors’ confidence to restart energy exploration and infrastructure construction in the northern region notwithstanding the presence of financial resources to do so. Consequently, ONDD is not planning to reopen for cover in the ‘Azawad’ region before the peace process moves forward.

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com