General Kéba Sangaré was appointed as the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Malian Armed Forces on Wednesday, November 1st. However, despite his distinguished career, serious allegations outlined in a 2020 United Nations report have been made against him. Despite these allegations, he has assumed the position of the second-in-command of the Malian army.
General Kéba Sangaré is rarely seen without his iconic red para-commando beret. His appointment as Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Malian Armed Forces was announced after a Council of Ministers meeting.
General Sangaré is the son of a former Chief of Staff of the Army, a role he held from 2019 to 2020, before passing the torch to Oumar Diarra, who currently leads the Malian forces. Before becoming Deputy Chief, General Sangaré served as the governor of the Bougouni region. He has an esteemed reputation within the Malian military, having led operations in Timbuktu during the reconquest of the North in 2013, alongside the French Serval forces, after ten months of jihadist occupation.
The Malian military has shifted its alliances, and General Sangaré will have to work with the Russian Wagner Group to plan an offensive in Kidal. This is currently the top priority for the transitional Malian authorities, who aim to regain control of the stronghold of rebel groups.
Interestingly, three years ago, in August 2020, a UN expert report portrayed General Sangaré as an impediment to the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement. The UN report criticized his “questionable decisions” when he was in charge of the army, accusing him of attempting to circumvent the prescribed quotas in the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process for armed groups (DDR). This, in turn, eroded trust between the parties.
The UN report also held General Sangaré responsible for the Ogossagou massacre in February 2020, in which 35 people died, and 19 went missing. Malian soldiers stationed in the village had left Ogossagou despite the UN report indicating that General Sangaré had been “informed of the threat” “over ten hours” before the attack. A year earlier, in March 2019, 160 civilians were killed in the same village in the country’s central region, which had been a frequent site of clashes between the Fulani and Dogon communities. Following this episode, General Sangaré was relieved of his duties as Chief of Staff of the Army.