Day of Recovered Sovereignty in Mali Date in the current year: January 14, 2024

Day of Recovered Sovereignty in Mali The Day of Recovered Sovereignty (Journée de la souveraineté retrouvée) is a public holiday celebrated in Mali on January 14 every year. It was inaugurated by the country’s military government in 2023.

Like many African countries, Mali has a tumultuous history riddled with coups. It gained independence from France as the Mali Federation, consisting of what is now Mali and Senegal, on June 20, 1960. Senegal withdrew from the federation two months later, and the Republic of Mali was officially declared on September 22, 1960.

The first president of Mali was Modibo Keïta, who quickly established a one-party socialist state and began nationalizing economic resources. He ruled the country for eight years before being overthrown in the 1968 coup d’état led by Moussa Traoré, who would serve as head of state until 1991. Traoré suppressed all political activity and created a police state where any opposition was repressed. His regime faced student unrest and three unsuccessful coup attempts.

In the late 1980s, Traoré allowed some limited political liberalization but refused to introduce a multi-party democratic system. This resulted in the emergence of opposition movements, anti-government protests, and eventually the 1991 coup d’état. The overthrow of Traoré was followed by the country’s first democratic election that was won by Alpha Oumar Konaré.

Konaré served for two consecutive terms and was succeeded by Amadou Toumani Touré, who used to be head of Traoré’s personal guard and was the one who arrested him during the coup. Like Konaré before him, Touré served for two consecutive terms. However, he was overthrown in a coup led by Amadou Sanogo, who accused the president of mishandling the 2012 Tuareg rebellion (which would grow into a civil war that was still ongoing as of 2023).

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected as the new president of Mali in August 2013 and reelected in 2018. He was deposed in the 2020 Malian coup d’état led by Colonel Assimi Goïta. Although the country was supposed to transition to a civilian government, it never actually happened. In May 2021, Goïta overthrew interim president Bah N’daw and became the new interim president.

In January 2022, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Mali for deferring democratic elections for four years. They included the freezing of Malian assets in ECOWAS banks and the suspension of most trade transactions with Mali. Mali responded by closing its borders and recalling several ambassadors to ECOWAS countries. The sanctions were lifted in July 2022, when Mali agreed to hold an election in 2024.

In 2023, the government of Assimi Goïta designated January 14 as the Day of Recovered Sovereignty to commemorate the “great mobilization” against the sanctions imposed on Mali by the ECOWAS. According to the government, the new holiday is designed to strengthen patriotic feelings and celebrate the country’s newfound sovereignty, which is based on three principles defined by Goïta:

  • Respect for the sovereignty of Mali.
  • Respect for the strategic choices made by Mali and its international partners.
  • Protection of the vital interests of the people of Mali in all decisions made by the government.

The Day of Recovered Sovereignty is a non-working paid holiday marked by events focusing on the themes of sovereignty, patriotism, and national resistance.

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