‘The fish rots from the head down’: the global drugs trade and the erosion of the Malian state

18 March 2013 Andrew Norton

A recent event at ODI on the humanitarian dimensions of the crisis in Mali, saw a common theme in presentations from two panellists, Jeremy Swift and Bruce Whitehouse. Both outlined how Mali’s State institutions and the political leadership of the pre-coup regime of Amadou Toumani Toure had been rotting from the inside out (or perhaps from the ‘head down’ as the proverb in the title has it) for some time before the ‘tipping point’ of state collapse. The rot set in when local and national elites started to benefit from drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom.

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