In April, President Amadou Toumani Touré was re-elected for a second five-year term. Voter participation was low at 36.24 per cent. In July, President Touré’s ruling coalition, the Alliance for Democracy and Progress (Alliance pour la démocratie et le progrès) won an absolute majority in parliament.
Conflict in Kidal region
In May 2007, unrest broke out again in the Kidal region in the north, despite the peace agreement signed in Algeria in July 2006 between the Touareg armed group, the Democratic Alliance for Change (Alliance démocratique pour le changement) and the government. An armed group, led by Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, launched a series of attacks.
Following an attack by an armed group on a security post in Kidal in May, eight members of the armed group and two members of the Malian armed forces were killed. In August, around 50 soldiers and civilians were abducted by an armed group led by Ibrahim Ag Bahanga. Ten of them were released in September after a military operation led by the Malian army and 16 others in December after mediation by the Algerian authorities.
Freedom of expression under attack
In July, a teacher and five journalists were arrested for causing offence to the head of state. This followed the publication of an article commenting on an assignment set by the teacher, Bassirou Kassim Minta, which concerned the mistress of an imaginary head of state.
Bassirou Kassim Minta was sentenced to two months in prison, banned from teaching and fined following a trial which was held behind closed doors. Seydina Oumar Diarra, a journalist from the Info Matin newspaper, was sentenced to 13 days in prison and a fine. Diarra’s editor, Sambi Touré, was given an eight-month suspended sentence and a fine. The editors of three other national newspapers, Ibrahima Fall (Le Républicain), Alexis Kalambry (Les Échos) and Hameye Cissé of the daily Le Scorpion, received four-month suspended sentences and a fine.
Death penaltyIn September, the government proposed a new law that would provide for the death penalty for those convicted of being the authors of acts connected to terrorism. However, in October, the government adopted a draft bill to abolish the death penalty which was awaiting parliamentary approval at the end of the year.