1st Edition

Governance and Intervention in Mali Elusive Security

By Susanna D. Wing Copyright 2024

    This book provides the historical and political context for the security interventions in Mali over the past three decades.

    The work contextualizes external military engagement (including that of the United States, France, the United Nations and G5 Sahel) within the broader framework of weak democratic consolidation, unmet development goals and increasing popular perceptions of widespread corruption in Mali. Over the past three decades, there have been four military coups in Mali: the military coup in 1991 launched the Third Republic; the 2012 coup toppled elected President Touré; the 2020 coup overthrew the elected President Keita; and the coup within a coup that ousted transitional President Bah. Given the political context, how do multiple international interventions relate to insecurity and instability in the country? Drawing on the author’s thirty years of research on Mali, this work examines the relationship between external intervention in the country, domestic actors, and decentralization policies. The book argues that external support has ignored the poor governance that is at the heart of the country’s crises.

    This book will be of much interest to students of intervention and statebuilding, African politics and International Relations in general.


    1. Democracy, Accountability, and Framing Crises

    2. Mali’s Security Traffic Jam

    3. Consequences of Intervention

    4. Malian Armed Forces, Community-Based Armed Groups, and Religious Leaders

    5. Decentralization and Security for Whom?

    6. Conclusions


    Susanna Wing is Associate Professor of Political Science at Haverford College, USA. She is author of Constructing Democracy in Transitioning Societies of Africa: Constitutionalism and Deliberation in Mali (2008).

    'Within the course of a decade, Mali disintegrated from being the West's posterchild of democratization to a nation engulfed in perennial and deep-seated conflicts. Wing's book advances new and inconvenient insights into the key drivers behind these developments. Focusing on questions of domestic governance and outside interventionism, her book is a key source for conflict scholars, Africanists, development practitioners and anyone trying to make sense of what is happening in the Sahel.'

    Sebastian Elischer, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Florida, USA

    'In this book, Susanna Wing masterfully reframes Mali’s security crisis, embedding it into governance failures and democratic disillusions.  Relying on her vast experience of the country acquired over several decades, she highlights the fundamental and shattering political disconnect between Bamako and the north, between civil society and other identities, which have produced a pervasive crisis of governance.  No sector is neglected, and her analyses of the dynamics associated with aid, security sector assistance, religious actors, and decentralization, are devastating.  If you want to know how Mali went from apparently democratic (she calls that democracy a “farce!”) donor darling to failure and widespread insecurity, Wing’s book is sobering but required reading.'

    Pierre Englebert, H. Russell Smith Professor of International Relations and Professor of Politics, Pomona College, USA