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January 2013

France began actions against Islamist forces in Northern Mali. From 1960 to 1991, Mali was ruled by dictatorship; that ended with a military coup and democratic rule. The first democratically elected president won election in 1992 and 1997. The next president was also elected to two consecutive terms 2002 and 2007. In January 2012, a Tuareg rebellion started in the north.

Coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo and his junta under the mediation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) returned power to a civilian administration in April with the appointment of interim President Dioncounda Traore. The post-coup chaos led to rebels expelling the Malian military from the three northern regions of the country, which remain under the control of a Tuareg militia, Ansar al-Din, and its terrorist group allies. Hundreds of thousands of northern Malians fled the violence to southern Mali and neighboring countries, exacerbating regional food insecurity in host communities. A second unity government was announced in August and in September called upon the international community to assist them in reclaiming land lost to rebels. In December 2012 a third unity cabinet was announced. The interim government is working with ECOWAS to organize negotiations with Tuareg rebels and the international community to plan a military intervention to retake the three northern regions.

Mali's climate is subtropical to arid; hot and dry (February to June); rainy, humid, and mild (June to November); cool and dry (November to February). The terrain is mostly flat to rolling northern plains covered by sand; savanna in south, rugged hills in northeast. Natural resources of Mali include: gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, and hydropower. Natural hazards facing the country include: hot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons, recurring droughts, and the occasional Niger River flooding.

CIA World Factbook, 1/2013

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