The MALI FEDERATION (French : Fédération du Mali) was a federation
West Africa linking the French colonies of
Senegal and the Sudanese
Republic (or French Sudan) for a period of only two months in 1960.
It was founded on 4 April 1959 as a territory with self-rule within
French Community and became independent after negotiations with
France on 20 June 1960. Two months later, on 19 August 1960, the
Republic leaders in the
Federation mobilized the army
Senegal leaders in the federation retaliated by mobilizing the
gendarmerie (national police) which resulted in a tense stand-off and
the withdrawal from the federation by
Senegal the next day. The
Republic officials resisted this dissolution, cut off
diplomatic relations with Senegal, and defiantly changed the name of
their country to
Mali . For the brief existence of the Mali
Federation, the premier was
Modibo Keïta , who would become the first
President of the
Mali after the
and its government was based in
Dakar , Senegal.
* 1 Background
* 2 Formation
* 3 Political tension and dissolution
* 4 Legacy
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 6.1 Bibliography
After World War II, the colonies of French
West Africa began pushing
significantly for increased self-determination and to redefine their
colonial relationships with France. Following the
May 1958 crisis ,
the colonies of French
West Africa were given the chance to vote for
immediate independence or to join a reorganized
French Community (an
arrangement which would grant the colonies some self-determination
while maintaining ties to France). Only
Guinea voted for full
independence and the other colonies of French
West Africa voted to
join the French Community.
In the 1958 election to decide the issue of independence, two major
parties split the countries of west Africa: the African Democratic
Rally (French : Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, commonly known
as the RDA) and the
African Regroupment Party (French : Parti du
Regroupement Africain, commonly known as the PRA). The two regional
groupings of parties struggled against one another on the issue of
independence and the extent of ties with France. The RDA was the
governing party in the Ivory Coast colony, the
French Sudan colony,
Guinea while the PRA was a major governing party in
had sizable majorities in many countries. The two parties also were
part of coalition governments in
French Upper Volta
French Upper Volta , Niger , and
French Dahomey . While the two parties struggled with one another to
shape the political future of the region, Mauritania often became a
neutral party which would break any deadlocks. The vote of 1958
revealed a number of divisions within the parties. The RDA held a
congress on 15 November 1958 to discuss the recent election results
and the division became clear with
Modibo Keïta from
French Sudan and
Doudou Gueye from
Senegal arguing for primary federation (a federation
which would include
France and the colonies in a unified system) and
Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast dismissing the idea. The
resulting deadlock was so severe that the meeting was officially said
to have never taken place.
Colonies of French
In late November 1958, French Sudan, Senegal, Upper Volta and Dahomey
all declared the intention to join the
French Community and form a
federation linking the four colonies together.
French Sudan and
Senegal, despite longstanding divisions between their main political
parties, were the most enthusiastic pushers for this federation while
Dahomey and Upper Volta were more hesitant in their desire to join the
French Sudan called for representatives of each of the
four countries (and Mauritania as an observer) to Bamako on 28 to 30
December to discuss the formation of the federation.
French Sudan and
Senegal were the leaders at the congress with
Modibo Keïta named the
President of the meeting and
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor of
the key leader on many issues, including developing the name Mali
Federation for the proposed union. Although Upper Volta and Dahomey
declared formal support for the federation, and Upper Volta even
Federation Constitution on 28 January 1959,
political pressure from
France and the Ivory Coast (both of which
opposed the federation for very different reasons) resulted in neither
ratifying a constitution which would include them within the
federation. The result is that only the colonies of
French Sudan (by
this point called the Sudanese Republic) and
Senegal were engaged in
the discussions of the formation of the federation by 1959.
Elections in March 1959 in both
French Sudan and
Senegal cemented the
power of the major parties pushing for the formation of a federation.
Keïta's Union Soudanaise-Rassemblement Démocratique Africain
(US-RDA) party won 76% of the votes in
French Sudan and all of the
seats in the territorial assembly and Senghor's Union Progressiste
Sénégalaise (UPS) won 81% of the vote and all of the seats in
Senegal's territorial assembly. Although Senghor won the elections by
a large margin, some conservative Islamist marabouts supported the
candidacy of Cheikh Tidjane Sy. This challenge to Senghor's party
showed some of the weakness in Senghor's domestic political base and
required a complex system of alliances with various domestic
constituencies, both of which would become important as the federation
progressed. Sy was arrested on election day as a result of some
rioting which was blamed on his party.
After the elections, the assemblies of
Senegal and French Sudan
approved the federation and began the process of constructing a
political system to unite the two colonies. This involved three
different political projects with the principle of parity (even
representation from both colonies) enshrined in each: A federal
government, united social movements (a labor and youth movement), and
a shared political party for both countries. The federal government
was going to have an assembly composed of 20 members from each of the
colonies (40 in total), a President (set to be elected in August
1960), and six federal ministers (with 3 from each colony). Until a
president was elected, the premier of the
Federation was to be
Keïta and the vice-premier (and the person in charge of the armed
forces) was to be
Mamadou Dia from Senegal. Further, as part of the
parity principle, any legislative initiatives required a signature by
both the premier (then later the president) and the minister
responsible for that issue. The colonies were to share the import and
export taxes raised in the port of
Dakar between them. This sharing
was to the advantage of
French Sudan which had almost a third of its
1959 budget provided by this tax income.
At the same time, the
Mali federation sought to create unified social
organizations which would facilitate the union between the countries.
This involved creating labor movements and youth movements, which
would operate at both the federal and national levels, and a unified
political party. The political party was the major project as the
ruling parties in both colonies combined to form the Parti de la
Fédération Africaine (PFA). The PFA was organized separately from
the federal government but with many of the same members and leaders.
Senghor was the party president and Keïta was the secretary general;
in addition to have a regional influence
Djibo Bakary of Niger and
Emile Zinsou of Dahomey were named the vice-presidents of the party.
As articulated at the first PFA congress in July 1959 by Senghor, the
party would be the single political party in the country, aiming to
unite across the different ethnic groups in the territory.
In December 1959,
France and the
Federation began negotiations
regarding independence and sovereignty of the federation. These
negotiations were formally started when French president Charles de
Gaulle visited Bamako on 13 December, 1959, and lasted until March
1960. Although the French had earlier resisted the
when the two countries showed willingness to remain within the French
Community and the Franc zone and keep the French military bases within
its territory, the French supported the formation of the federation.
The negotiations agreed upon 20 June 1960 for the formal independence
day of the
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor of
Modibo Keïta of
Mamadou Dia of
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle of
POLITICAL TENSION AND DISSOLUTION
Tensions quickly arose within the
Federation as planning for the
implementation of the federation began in 1959 and early 1960. Unlike
some other areas of French West Africa,
French Sudan and
not have significant amounts of migration or intercultural movement
during the colonial period (although they were linked together in
French economic policy and linked by a key railway). More serious
than ethnic or linguistic differences though were some of the results
of the design of the federation. While the parity principle allowed
both countries to join together without fears of losing their
sovereignty, it also resulted in political spillover as political
disputes moved from one arena to another throughout the organization.
Similarly, the PFA tried to combine two political parties which were
in very different situations with the
French Sudan political party
having achieved political dominance while the
Senegal party needed an
elaborate and complex arrangement of alliances in order to maintain
authority. In addition, some of the aspects left vague in the first
discussions became key issues of debate between the political leaders
French Sudan as their articulation became more
important: including armed forces, development of an indigenous
bureaucracy, the strength of the federal government, and the precise
relationship with France. Finally, different visions for the colony
between Senghor and Keïta proved very difficult to mediate: Keïta,
after the dissolution of the federation, claimed that he pursued
socialism while Senghor pushed a bourgeoisie agenda.
The disagreements remained manageable until April 1960 after
France for recognition of independence had finished.
French Sudan began to push for a single executive in the federation
with significant independent authority,
Senegal preferred to maintain
the parity principle as it had been developed in 1959 and restrain the
power of any president. When a PFA congress to decide the issue ended
in a deadlock, the PFA members from outside the federation were called
in to mediate and they recommended the creation of a single executive
to be appointed by an equal number of representatives from
French Sudan, but also that the taxation would no longer be widely
shared between the two colonies (a key
Senegal position). Although
that issue was resolved to the agreement of both parties, a series of
misunderstandings quickly followed. When
French Sudan attempted to
remove a single military base within its territories, this was
interpreted as an attempt to eject the French from the entire
territory, which was viewed with suspicion by both
Senegal and France.
The tensions hit their high point in August 1960 in preparation for
the election of the President of the
Mali Federation. Cheikh Tidjane
Sy, who had been released from prison and became a member of Senghor's
political party, approached Senghor and said that he had been
approached by representatives from Sudan who had expressed a
preference for a Muslim president of the
Federation (like Sy)
rather than a Catholic president (like Senghor). An investigation by
Senghor's political allies found evidence that
French Sudan emissaries
had visited Sy's uncle, himself a Muslim political leader. At about
the same time, Keïta, as
Premier of the
Mali Federation, began
meeting formally with many of the Muslim political leaders of Senegal,
although there is no evidence of any discussion of undermining
Senghor's leadership. On 15 August, Senghor, Dia, and other political
Senegal began to work on how to get
Senegal out of the
federation. Mamadou Dia, as the vice-premier and person in charge of
national defense, began surveying the readiness of various military
units in case the political situation were to become hostile. These
questions to the various military units resulted in panic by Keïta
and the French Sudanese politicians. On 19 August, with reports of
Senegalese peasants arming in Dakar, Keïta dismissed Dia as the
defense minister, declared a state of emergency, and mobilized the
armed forces. Senghor and Dia were able to get a political ally in the
military to demobilize the military and then had the national
gendarmerie which surrounded Keïta's house and the government
Senegal declared independence from the
Federation at a midnight
session on 20 August. There was little violence and the French Sudan
officials were sent on a sealed train back to Bamako on 22 August.
The federation may have been salvageable in spite of the crisis but by
sending Keïta and the others back on a hot, sealed train during
August, rather than a plane, led Keïta to declare that the railroad
be destroyed at the border after the trip. Independent nations of
Senegal and the
Mali were recognized by most countries by
mid-September and accepted into the United Nations in late September
Federation existed in name only in Bamako for
France and most other nations recognized the two
colonies as separate independent countries on 12 September 1960. The
Sudanese Union –
African Democratic Rally
African Democratic Rally party in French Sudan
adopted the slogan "Le
Mali Continue" and at a meeting on 22 September
the party decided to rename the country
Mali and to sever ties with
the French Community. The admission to the United Nations for both
countries was delayed until late September as a result of the Mali
Senghor and Keïta both ruled their countries at the time of the
split from the
Federation and for a number of years: Senghor was
Senegal from 1960 until 1980 and Keïta from 1960 until
1968. Senghor suffered some domestic challenges after the split from
Federation but after an armed fight between his supporters
and those of Mamadou Dia's supporters in 1962, he had largely
consolidated his rule. Senghor became very wary of unification
efforts after the failed experiment and despite attempts to create
other federations in
West Africa and with Senegal's neighbors, Senghor
often restrained these efforts and they only progressed after his
rule. In addition, as the first failed unification experiment in
Federation served as a lesson in future attempts at
unification throughout the continent. Keïta became more assertive
with pushing his ideology after the collapse of the federation and
refused diplomatic relations with
Senegal for many years.
Mali under Keïta still pursued the goal of West African
unity but did so in a variety of different international connections.
The railroad was reopened on 22 June 1963 and Senghor and Keïta
embraced at the border.
* East African
Union of African States
Union of African States
* ^ A B C Hodgkin & Morgenthau 1964 , p. 243.
* ^ A B Kurtz 1970 , p. 405.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , pp. 85–87.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 98.
* ^ A B C Hodgkin & Morgenthau 1964 , p. 242.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 99.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 100.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 102.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , pp. 109–111.
* ^ A B Foltz 1965 , p. 116.
* ^ A B C D Foltz 1965 , p. 162.
* ^ A B C Imperato 1989 , p. 54.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 156.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 165.
* ^ Zolberg 1966 , pp. 50–51.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 168.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 148.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 163.
* ^ Hodgkin & Morgenthau 1964 , p. 244.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , pp. 169–172.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 169.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 170.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 175.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 177.
* ^ A B C Foltz 1965 , p. 180.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 182.
* ^ Pedler 1979 , p. 164.
* ^ A B Foltz 1965 , pp. 182–183.
* ^ Pedler 1979 , p. 165.
* ^ A B C Foltz 1965 , p. 183.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 184.
* ^ Welch Jr. 1966 , p. 265.
* ^ Kurtz 1970 , p. 406.
* ^ Hodgkin & Morgenthau 1964 , p. 245.
* ^ Foltz 1965 , p. 185.
* Foltz, William J. (1965). From French
West Africa to the Mali
Federation. New Haven: Yale University Press.
* Hodgkin, Thomas; Morgenthau, Ruth Schacter (1964). "Mali". In
James Scott Coleman (ed.). Political Parties and National Integration
in Tropical Africa. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp.
216–258. CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link )
* Imperato, Pascal Jame (1989). Mali: A Search for Direction.
Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.
* Kurtz, Donn M. (1970). "Political Integration in Africa: The Mali
Federation". The Journal of Modern African Studies. 8 (3): 405–424.
doi :10.1017/s0022278x00019923 .
* Pedler, Frederick (1979). Main Currents of West African History
1940-1978. London: MacMillan Press.
* Welch Jr., Claude E. (1966). Dream of Unity, Pan-Africanism and
Political Unification in West Africa. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University
* Zolberg, Aristide R. (1966). Creating Political Order: The
Party-States of West Africa. Chicago: Rand McNally and Company.
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