Military authorities appeared committed to taking control of 2015 peace deal signatories’ stronghold of Kidal, and could launch offensive in days or weeks to come.
Escalation between former rebel groups and govt forces continued in north. In Kidal region, govt and allied Russian paramilitary Wagner Group 7 Oct carried out strikes and took control of Anefis town from Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), which gathers northern armed groups signatory to 2015 peace agreement. As part of second phase of withdrawal, UN mission (MINUSMA) mid-Oct started leaving Tessalit and Aguelhok camps in Kidal region; two Malian military planes that landed in Tessalit to take control of base 16 Oct came under fire from CSP-affiliated Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), who worry arrival of Malian troops in Tessalit may be last step before offensive on Kidal town. CSP 31 Oct claimed takeover of vacated MINUSMA camp in Kidal town. Meanwhile in Gao region, CMA 2 and 4 Oct claimed seizing Bamba and Taoussa bases from army. Divisions emerged within CSP as founding member Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) late Sept announced departure from coalition over CMA’s bellicose stance toward govt; MSA Sec Gen 8 Oct said conflict only benefited jihadists, and several other CSP members also expressed commitment to peace.
Jihadist violence continued in centre and north. In centre, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 7 Oct ambushed soldiers near Batouma, Douentza region, killing 16, and 10 Oct ambushed joint convoy of army, Dan Na Ambassagou militiamen, and Wagner near Sibo village, Bandiagara region, claiming to have killed ten. Civilians continued to pay heavy toll in north. Wagner 8 Oct allegedly killed seven civilians in Takoukate village, Kidal region, while Wagner and govt forces 15 Oct reportedly killed six civilians and committed sexual abuse in Agumeimin and Tichilit villages, Timbuktu region.
Political tensions continued around postponed presidential election. Prominent religious and political figure, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, convened demonstration for 13 Oct in capital Bamako to protest indefinite delay to presidential election, while pro-govt civil society organisation called for counterprotest; authorities 9 Oct banned both gatherings, citing “high risk of unrest”.