Gunmen Free Five Kidnapped Mali Opposition Members.

Gunmen Free Five Kidnapped Mali Opposition Members.
Gunmen Free Five Kidnapped Mali Opposition Members.

Members of the Union for the Republic and Democracy were freed by unknown gunmen after their kidnapping took place on the 25th of March.

The URD and its Members

The Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD) is the main opposition political party in Mali. The party head is known as Soumaila Cisse. Individuals who supported Soumaila Cisse during the 2002 election formed the party. Most of the members of this political party were formerly members of another ruling political called ADEMA.

Some of these individuals choose to leave the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA) because they felt betrayed by an outgoing president Alpha Oumar Konare. The outgoing president supported Amadou Toumani Toure in the 2002 presidential election against his party. This decision did not sit well with members of the political party, and this led to most of them abandoning (ADEMA) and showing support for (URD) Instead.

About Mr. Soumaila Cisse

Mr. Soumaila Cisse, a former Finance Minister for the Mali government, has been head of the Union for the Republic and Democracy since 2014. In Mr. Cisse`s lifetime, he has stood thrice as a presidential candidate in Mali. The former Minister, however, was unsuccessful in all occasions in 2002, 2013, and 2018. In 2013 and 2018, Cisse lost presidential polls to incumbent Ibrahim Boubakar Keita.

Following his defeat in the 2018 elections and the re-election of President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita, Mr. Cisse started campaigning for a parliament seat. In Mali holding a  parliamentary election happens after a president’s reelection, or election of a new president occurs. Postponing of the Election for the 147-seat National Assembly of Mali, however, occurred several times. The reason behind this being the persistent security concerns and the coronavirus epidemic.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali and the Mali government have since been coordinating together to try and restore peace in the West African Country. The rates of insecurity, however, seem to be ever-persistent each day, and Mali is struggling to keep things under control.

The Attack on Mr. Cisse and his Entourage

Due to the increasing rate of insecurity, when the 70-year-old Soumaila Cisse held his campaign in the central area of Mali, he and his colleagues were ambushed. The ambush occurred in the northern region of Timbuktu. Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda frequently targeted the area Mr.Cisse held his campaigns. During the attack that occurred on March 25th, 2020, unidentified shooters shot and killed Mr. Cisse`s bodyguard and injured two others.

The armed gunmen kidnapped Cisse a runner-up in three presidential elections and six members of his delegation days before a parliamentary vote. Authorities believed that a jihadist group linked to al-Qaida kidnapped Cisse and his entourage. They made these claims because the area where Cisse and his entourage disappeared was frequently targeted by Islamist militants with links to al-Qaida groups. No individual or group, however, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

Release of Five of Mr. Cisse`s Opposition Members

Five of the members of Mr. Cisse`s entourage kidnapped on March 25th, 2020, with him were, however, freed overnight. MR. Cisse and three other colleagues were still missing. Cisse`s assistant and his driver were amongst the five individuals released by the unknown gunmen who kidnapped them. The Mali government said in a statement that it would do all it could to quickly find Mr. Cisse and the remaining members of his entourage. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, on the other hand, said it would deploy an MD500 helicopter to search for Cissé at the army’s request.



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