Mali parties reject army's five-year democratic transition

AFP , Sunday 2 Jan 2022

A major coalition of Malian political parties on Sunday rejected the military-dominated government's plan for a transition lasting up to five years before the country returns to democratic rule.

 Malian military in Bamako
File Photo: Members of the Malian military in Bamako on June 7, 2021. AFP

The army has dominated landlocked and conflict-wracked Mali since August 2020, carrying out two coups and postponing elections it had previously committed to hold next month.

Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop submitted the new plans to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday, following a national reform conference boycotted by political parties and social organisations.

The plans are for a five-year prolongation of the transition period, starting from January 1.

The coalition, representing around 10 parties, said the timetable violates the transition charter, "has not been discussed in Mali and cannot in any way be the deep desire of the Malian people".

"Consequently, the group rejects this unilateral and unreasonable timetable," it added in a statement.

Coalition spokesman Sekou Niame Bathily told AFP the parties "dissassociate" themselves from the military government's plan and want "to proceed with quickly organising elections".

ECOWAS, which has threatened to impose sanctions on Mali's ruling junta for postponing the elections, will hold an extraordinary summit on Mali in Ghana's capital Accra on January 9.

Colonel Assimi Goita has led Mali since an August 2020 coup ousted former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, after weeks of street protests over perceived corruption and Keita's handling of a bloody jihadist insurgency.

Under pressure from France and Mali's neighbours, Goita pledged that Mali would return to civilian rule in February after holding presidential and legislative elections.

But he staged a de facto second coup in May 2021, forcing out an interim civilian government and disrupting the timetable.

The junta cited persistent insecurity in Mali's restive north in its decision to postpone the elections.

Two-thirds of the country's territory is out of the government's control as self-defence militias and armed men affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group mete out violence on civilians and soldiers.

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