Malian political coalition resists

Adeyemi Adeyemi
Adeyemi Adeyemi

Global Courant 2023-05-08 16:53:17

Political groups want the cancellation of a referendum that was to take place on June 18.

A number of political associations in Mali have joined forces to oppose the military government’s decision to hold a June 18 referendum on a new constitution.

The referendum announced on Friday is a milestone on the road to elections that the country had promised for February after a coup three years earlier. The referendum was previously scheduled for March 19, but was postponed.

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The coalition is demanding the cancellation of the decree to convene the electoral bodies, deeming the ruling authorities illegitimate, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported.

The group also points out that “more than two-thirds of the territory (are) plunged into general insecurity,” according to RFI.

Mali is in the throes of an 11-year security crisis, sparked by a regional uprising in the north that grew into a full-blown insurgency. Frustration that French troops, who had been in the country since 2013, could not wipe out the rebels led to mounting anti-French sentiment.

That and the military rule in the country led to soured relations with France, the country’s traditional ally and former colonizer, and closer ties with Russia.

Multiple challenges

Constitutional amendments have long been debated in Mali. A referendum planned for 2017 did not take place.

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In April 2021, the caretaker government formed by army colonels announced that a referendum would be held in October.

Within weeks, that government was overthrown in a coup d’état and Colonel Assimi Goita was appointed transitional president.

Analysts said there could be multiple challenges to holding the referendum, from attacks on polling places to logistical issues such as voter registration.

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There is also opposition to the referendum from some Muslim religious figures, rebel groups in the north and part of civil society, who do not support the inclusion of a secular state in the draft.

Goita has given “very firm instructions” for the referendum to receive all necessary logistical, financial and security support, a government spokesman said when the referendum was announced last week.

The referendum campaign runs from 2 to 16 June. Voters will have to answer “yes” or “no” to the question: do you agree with the draft constitution?

Malian political coalition resists

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