Although the army returned power to a civilian government in April, the coup leaders retained control of the army. The army objected to plans (approved by the civilian government) to use a UN approved ECOWAS
(Economic Community of West African States) peacekeeper force to regain control of the north. The Mali army believed they should be given new weapons and training and allowed to retake the north by themselves, with perhaps some help from foreign troops or aircraft. Western and ECOWAS does not believe the Mali army was up to that task and did not want to make the Mali army any stronger as long as the army leaders had set themselves up as the ultimate political force in the country. Now the army has forcibly removed the civilian government and replaced it with civilians known to be allies of the army leadership. The Mali army failed to maintain government control of the north and is now the main obstacle to regaining control of the north.
The UN has still not approved the ECOWAS invasion of northern Mali. The ECOWAS nations do not want Islamic radical groups running northern Mali as a terrorist sanctuary. Western nations are even more upset at this prospect. The Mali army leadership apparently believes they can work out a compromise with the northern rebels, one that will keep the ECOWAS force out and the coup leaders in power. That power will make the coup leaders rich, given the prevalence of corruption in Mali. The UN is not in a hurry to approve a peacekeeping mission that is opposed by the army leadership of the nation the peacekeepers are going to. As more and more terrorist acts are traced back to groups in northern Mali (especially kidnappings in Africa or bombings in the West) there will be popular pressure on Western nations to intervene without UN permission. The only question is how much terrorism (kidnapping and bombing victims) will it take to trigger an invasion of northern Mali? The Islamic terrorists in northern Mali have made it clear that they see kidnapping Europeans as an excellent way to raise money, which in turn will be used to finance terror attacks in the region and in the West.
Meanwhile there is a constant stream of refugees from northern Mali telling of increasing enforcement of strict Islamic lifestyle (no tobacco, alcohol, music, video, shaved men, and unveiled women) lifestyle rules. The Islamic radicals have also damaged some non-Islamic cultural sites. There have been a number of demonstrations against this. That caused the Islamic radicals to back off a bit but only until more new enforcers (often teenage boys given guns and told to enforce the rules). Now demonstrators are quickly attacked and punished for their blasphemous behavior. The Islamic radicals are also forcing teenage girls to marry Islamic terrorists. Some Islamic radicals are using the Islamic “temporary marriage” as an excuse to force some women into prostitution.
There are over 300,000 refugees from the Islamic terrorism in the north and the UN expects Western nations to pay for taking care of the refugees. The Mali army expects to grab some of that aid money, which is how it usually works in this part of the world.
December 15, 2012: A new prime minister has organized a new government. This includes representatives from the rebellious north, which is controlled by Islamic radicals. The Economy Minister, Defense Minister, and Foreign Minister were held over from the previous government.
December 13, 2012: Britain and other Western nations called for the Mali army to back off and not install a “civilian” government composed of civilians who are friends and allies of the coup leaders. ECOWAS also condemned the army removal of the civilian government but is apparently ready to try and do business with the new army approved civilian government.
December 8, 2012: The army arrested the prime minister and forced him to resign, along with all his ministers, on TV. The army said this was legitimate because the president was still in power (to appoint a new prime minister, with the approval of the army).