The military coup d’état happened minutes after President Ali Bongo was declared the winner of disputed elections.
With its new constitution, Mali has dropped French, which has been the country’s official language since 1960. Ironically, the constitution that demoted French as an official language, is written in French.
The decision comes at a time of growing anti-France sentiments across West Africa due to its perceived military and political interference.
In June, Malian voters approved a new constitution proposed by the country’s military government that moved French from an official language to a working one.
The change raises complicated questions in a country with more than 70 local languages. French has served as a way for Malians of different ethnic groups to communicate; it has also allowed the government to sidestep privileging one group’s language over another’s.
Chris Scott provides Matthew Traver with some good advice on travelling the Sahara.
Mauritania: Good security for at least 400km east, inland from the Atlantic Coast. Provinces near the Mali border, such as Adrar, Tagant, Hodh El Gharbi and Hodh Ech Chargui, may be less safe.
Western Sahara: Travel and access along the N1 Atlantic Route, running down the Atlantic Coast, is easy and safe. Expect a few military checkpoints.
Tunisia: Avoid the Libyan border zones and the far south, which is a military area.