Dear prayer partners,

On Sunday 23 August, leaders of Mali’s military junta led by Colonel Assimi Goita and mediators from West Africa’s regional bloc led by Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, met behind closed doors to discuss a resolution to the nation’s current leadership crisis. On Tuesday 18 August, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned and dissolved parliament while being detained at gunpoint by coup leaders. On Wednesday 19 August, Colonel Assimi Goita announced himself as the leader of the military coup – that would rule until a “transitional president” took over. Meetings are set to continue throughout this coming week.

Chairman of the African Union and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” in Mali and demanded its detained politicians be freed. China also said it opposed regime change by force while EU leaders called for the release of those held. While the ousting of Mali’s president has been widely criticised abroad, it has been celebrated by many within the country which has battled an Islamist insurgency and months of political unrest.

On Friday 21 August, thousands gathered in the capital’s Independence Square, to celebrate the military overthrow of Mr Keita, many of them carried Mali’s national flag blowing vuvuzela horns. Protests have been ongoing since a disputed legislative election in March. In June, protestors took to the street demanding President Keita’s resignation, accusing him of allowing Mali’s economy to collapse and of corruption and worsening security in large parts of the country where affiliates of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group (IS) are active. Mali is the linchpin of French-led efforts to roll back jihadists in the Sahel, and its neighbours are anxious to avoid the country sliding into chaos.

Mali is home to about 20 million people, 87.5% of the population are professing Muslims, while Christians are said to make up about 2.8% of the population. While the majority of Malians traditionally practice a relatively liberal version of Islam, radicalisation has been on the increase and has led to an uptick in violence against Christians from jihadist groups, such as Al Qaeda, and from criminal organisations that have allied themselves with radical Islamic rebel groups.

We are the body of Christ and when one part suffers, we all do – please join us in praying for Mali and for our brothers and sisters who live there.

“There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.” (A.T. Pierson)