Assimi Goïta escaped an assassination attempt. This is obvious. It is now time to ask questions. While waiting for the conclusions of the ongoing investigation, we can explore some leads, hypothetical of course, but leads nonetheless.
« I am very well, » Colonel Assimi Goïta assured the Malians during the midday news on national television. « When you are a leader, there are always malcontents, there are people who at any time may want to try things to destabilize, try isolated actions, » he added. Assimi Goïta can rejoice in the fact that he is still alive, safe and sound, after the assassination attempt of which he was a victim in the middle of the celebration of Eid al-Adha at the Grand Mosque of Bamako.
The assailant, who, according to the latest news, was a teacher, tried to stab him in the back. As a good military man, the former head of a special forces battalion had a self-defense reflex to avoid being hit before his security could overpower the attacker. But who is this assailant really? Can his action be classified as an « isolated action » as Assimi Goïta himself said, or is he working for someone? What are the motives behind this attack? Is Assimi Goïta so disturbing?
In short, the question is above all who wants the skin of the colonel president? For now, these questions remain unanswered. While waiting for the ongoing investigation to tell us more about the act of Tuesday, no hypothesis should be ruled out, since many people are or could be angry with Colonel Assimi Goïta.
The relatives of Bah N’Daw, Moctar Ouane and even IBK
Respectively President and Prime Minister of the transition appointed by the military junta and dismissed only eight months later, retired Colonel Bah N’Daw and diplomat Moctar Ouane and their relatives have reason to resent Assimi Goïta. Especially since May 24, the two men are no longer free to move. Arrested and taken to the famous Kati military camp on Monday, May 24, they were released three days later and have been under house arrest ever since.
Attempts by their lawyers to regain their freedom have so far been unsuccessful. The latest attempt was made on Monday, July 19, 2021. Indeed, the former Minister of Justice, Mr. Mamadou Ismaïla Konaté, sent a letter to President Assimi Goïta on Monday, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the two men. He plans to turn to the sub-regional courts or to the UN if he does not get his way.
There are certainly dissatisfied people in the camp of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who was forced to resign in August 2020 by the military junta still led by Assimi Goïta. Even though IBK was loathed by a large part of the Malian people, who for weeks had been clamoring for his departure, he still has supporters in the country who may still seek revenge.
French position questionable
On Tuesday evening, France, via its embassy in Mali, condemned the attempted assassination of the Malian president. « The @FranceauMali strongly condemns the attack against the President of the transition, a shocking act that occurred moreover on a special day of peace and tolerance. France calls for serenity for the continuation of the transition until its end, » reads the embassy’s Twitter account.
So be it! But we remember that just recently, in the aftermath of the second putsch perpetrated by Colonel Assimi Goïta, France strongly condemned the act, clearly displaying its opposition to the junta leader. At the time, Paris, which had even threatened to withdraw from Mali, suspended military cooperation with the country, before reversing this decision a few days later.
The inauguration of Assimi Goïta as head of Mali on June 7, 2021, clearly prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to quickly decide to end Operation Barkhane in the Sahel. Indeed, only three days after the installation of Assimi Goïta as President of the Republic of Mali, Emmanuel Macron stepped up to the plate to sound the end of Barkhane. Among other reasons, the French President hammered: « The decision that ECOWAS has taken to recognize a military putschist six months after having denied him this right creates a bad precedent for the Africans themselves (…) for ECOWAS itself and by the precedent that this creates among many neighbors.
For Paris, Assimi Goïta, although very popular in his country, is not the right man to preside over the transition in Mali. The other reason behind France’s opposition to the colonel is his willingness to engage in dialogue with the terrorist groups that are sowing terror in Mali.
In short, Paris has not hidden its fierce opposition to the accession to power of this young coup colonel, while at the same time, a few thousand kilometers from Bamako, a young coup general, Mahamat Idriss Déby, had the full blessing of France to illegally take over from his father at the head of Chad. With all these elements, there is every reason to believe that the premature death of this young colonel would certainly not displease France.
Even if the colonels have shown themselves to be in favour of a discussion with the jihadist groups from the start, it is clear that the gap between the two parties is still very wide. Since the army continues to suffer attacks from these terrorist groups. An attack by them against President Assimi Goïta? The hypothesis is not to be dismissed at first glance.
In any case, it is to be hoped that the investigation will move forward quickly and succeed in establishing the facts.