The town of Kidal is located in the Kidal
region of northern
Mali (see map right ~ region in red, town blue spot) a
desert region with temperatures reaching as high as 45 degrees Celsius during
the day. The region has a population 85,000 with 40,000 living in Kidal
itself and the economy, such as it is, is largely based on livestock
breeding, craft-making, tourism and commerce. Kidal was also home to a large military
base of the Armed and Security Forces of Mali (Forces Armées et de
Sécurité du Mali) which patrolled the area after the creation of the Kidal Region in 1991 following the fall of Mali's president
Moussa Traoré. Kidal was created a region with its own governor in an attempt
to dampen demands for independence for the area by its mostly mostly Tuareg
and Songhai population.
is located within Azawad ('land
of transhumance') which has been an area in conflict for hundreds of years being the focus of
rebellions by the Taureg, descendants of the people who
founded Timbuktu in the 11th Century.
2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA)
declared an insurrection against Mali rule that would continue
for as long as the government in Bamako refused to acknowledge
it as a separate territory.
n March 2012 Kidal was
captured by the MNLA and was quickly abandoned by the
government "to preserve the life of the people of Kidal".
were killed and others defected. The following week
on 6 April, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad
declared independence from Mali and the imposition of strict
Sharia law. The declaration has received no
these events have further isolated Kidal which already had poor
infrastructure, no real roads nor rivers for transportation, one
of the main ongoing issues is the lack of water with erratic rain patterns creating a severe water shortage.
Until the declaration of independence for the area the Mali
government was working hard to transport water into Kidal to
prevent the deaths of further scores of animals that were dying
of thirst (right). As one teacher reported "The heat, the sun we
are used to that. But we cannot bear a lack of water."
Today the future for Kidal is unclear. The coup has led to a
collapse of the tourist industry as people had visited to see the
rock and cave paintings of Tamaradant and Tessalit as well as
the Adrar des Iforhas Mountains and its black rocks. Kidal is
also seeing dissent amongst those who declared the independence
Whilst the MNLA wants its independence for Azawad recognised
the other rebel group, Ansar Dine, wants to maintain Mali as a
single country operating as a theocracy under Sharia law. As one
reporter commented "The crisis is becoming tribal. After having
fought the Malian army together ... the two groups are now
fighting on a tribal basis. It's very dangerous."