The government had come under mounting pressure over its handling of violence in the restive Mopti region and especially a massacre on March 23 in which 160 people were killed in the village of Ogossagou near the border with Burkina Faso.
Members of the Dogon ethnic group -- a hunting and farming community with a long history of tension with the nomadic Fulani people over access to land -- were accused of being behind the mass killing.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Bamako on April 5 to protest against the upsurge of violence, accusing the government of not doing enough to stop it. The protest was called by Muslim religious leaders, organisations representing the Fulani herding community, opposition parties and civil society groups.
Mali has been struggling to restore stability since Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the country's vast desert north in early 2012. While the jihadists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation that began in January 2013, huge areas are still in the grip of lawlessness, despite a 2015 peace agreement with some armed groups that sought to definitively stamp out the Islamist threat.
Since then, militants have shifted from the north towards the more densely populated centre of the country, where they have sharpened ancient rivalries and ethnic conflicts that date back years. Jihadist attacks have also spread to Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.