PP10: Popular Perceptions of the Causes and Consequences of the Conflict in Mali

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Policy papers
Massa Coulibaly

In the December 2012 Afrobarometer survey, Malians highlighted the primary causes of the serious sociopolitical crisis that their country was going through, as lack of patriotism on the part of the leaders and weakness of the State. At that time, most Malians had lost trust in the political class and in politicians. One year later (December 2013), however, a follow-up Afrobarometer survey revealed that foreign terrorists and corruption are rather the two primary causes of the Northern conflict and occupation.

The change in perceptions on this question in the space of a year is explained by the change in the nature and scale of the crisis. The crisis went from the occupation of two-thirds of the territory to war via the intensified radicalism in the occupants’ management of the occupied areas and their many acts of banning and punishment. Next, the change in perceptions is also explained by the peaceful organization of presidential and legislative elections with record participation rates of Malian citizens since the advent of democracy in 1992, more than 50% in the presidential ones and a little less than 50% in the legislative ones. These elections deemed free and honest explain in turn that the need to resort to violence for a good cause is perceived by close to one out of five Malians versus close to one out of three Malians one year prior.

One of the major challenges of the governance in Mali is still maintaining and deepening confidence between Malians and their ruling class. To do so, measuring the populations’ perceptions helps to track the will of the people and ensure that policies serve this will and not the reverse.