New Poll: Nearly 8 in 10 Malians support international military intervention in the north

Recent poll in Mali reveals citizens’ views on the crisis in the north of the country.

WASHINGTON (JANUARY 24 2013): Strikes by the French military on January 11th, 2013 marked the beginning of foreign intervention in northern Mali. Since March 2012, various rebel groups, including Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), have been struggling for control of the north in the wake of a power vacuum left by a coup in March of the same year. Forces from other countries in the region such as Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Togo have arrived in Mali to launch further attacks against the rebels.

A poll conducted by ORB International in Mali at the end of 2012 indicates that Malians welcome the intervention - 78% of Malians support foreign military intervention to target Islamist rebel groups in the north. The results of the survey, which were released to coincide with the beginning of foreign military intervention in the country, also show that a strong majority of respondents (67%) believe the international community’s focus should be on securing Mali’s territorial integrity.

While Malians are keen on foreign militaries targeting Islamist rebel groups, faith in their national military to confront the rebels is comparatively weaker - 61% believe the Malian military should not immediately attempt to take the north, but should wait until it’s stronger to do so.

Other important findings of the survey include:

  • Strong majorities in all surveyed regions support the use of force by foreign militaries to target Islamist rebels. Respondents in Mopti, the region surveyed that is closest to the conflict, are the strongest supporters – 89% support foreign intervention while 8% oppose it.
  • The majority of respondents in all surveyed regions believe protecting the territorial integrity of Mali should be the international community’s biggest focus in the country over the humanitarian crisis or the political crisis in Bamako.
  • The majority of respondents in all surveyed regions except for those in Kayes believe the Malian military should wait until the Malian military is stronger before attempting to retake the north from rebel groups.

ORB has been tracking public opinion in Mali and across the Sahel since 2008. Information about the poll:

  • ORB International conducted the poll from November 23-December 3, 2012
  • Results are from a national face-to-face random probability survey of 1,506 people conducted in six regions of Mali. Interviewers were unable to access the regions of Gao, Kidal and Tomboctou due to the current security situation
  • Of the poll respondents, 50 percent were male and 50 percent female
  • The survey was conducted in French, Bambara and Pulaar
  • Results in this release are weighted by region and locality (urban/rural)
  • More details on the survey and methodology are available upon request

For more information, please contact Johnny Heald in the UK or Cara Carter in the US.