The United States established diplomatic relations with Mali in 1960, following its independence from France. In 1992, Mali moved from a one-party state to multiparty democracy. In March 2012, Mali's elected civilian government was removed in a military seizure of power, and an interim administration was subsequently put in place. There are rebel groups still active in northern Mali, and an ongoing international military intervention in the north to dislodge and disrupt terrorist organizations and return security and territorial integrity to Mali.
U.S.-Mali relations have been strong for decades and have been based on shared goals of strengthening democracy and reducing poverty through economic growth. The country’s democratic government had been in place for two decades and had significantly reduced poverty and improved the quality of life for many Malians. However, Mali remained near the bottom of the Human Development Index, notably in health and education. It also faced security challenges in the north.
The United States condemned the March 2012 coup d’état and has called on the junta to cease its interference in political affairs and allow for the full return of constitutional rule. The junta's continued interference in the government has undermined democracy in Mali, and the political chaos in Bamako created by the coup d’état enabled terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and armed rebel groups to capture northern towns and cities and effectively gain control over the northern two-thirds of Mali. These groups controlled the major population centers of northern Mali, including Gao and Timbuktu, until the international intervention by French and African forces in early 2013 stopped the southward advance of AQIM and associated elements and restored much of the northern territory to Mali’s political control. The United States continues to call for the swift return of democratic government through free, fair, and inclusive elections, and supports credible negotiations between the Malian Government and all parties in the north who have cut ties to terrorist organizations and who recognize, without conditions, the unity and territorial integrity of the Malian state. Only a democratically elected government viewed as legitimate by the Malian people will have the strength and credibility to address the political, security, humanitarian, and development crises facing the country.