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Mali’s army junta holds referendum on new structure it calls a step towards new elections

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BAMAKO, Mali — Malian voters forged ballots on a brand new draft structure Sunday in a referendum that the nation’s coup chief says will pave the way in which towards holding new elections in 2024, however critics have known as it a delay tactic to increase his time in energy.

Col. Assimi Goita, who seized management of the landlocked West African nation almost three years in the past, has informed Malians that the proposed draft structure “supplies for a better-organized govt energy.”

“I’m satisfied that this referendum will pave the way in which for a brand new Mali, a powerful and environment friendly Mali serving the well-being of our folks,” Goita stated after casting his poll Sunday.

The election observer group MODELE stated that participation at noon had solely been about 21% of eligible voters. The mission additionally cited dozens of polling stations that have been closed as a consequence of safety issues, disenfranchising folks. The referendum additionally didn’t embrace Mali’s total northern Kidal area.

Imam Mahmoud Dicko, an opponent of the army junta, invited his supporters to a big corridor in Bamako on Friday to ask them to vote in opposition to the draft structure.

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“In our nation immediately, can we communicate of justice, democracy, human rights, the rule of legislation? What sort of democracy are we speaking about? The place is it? What rule of legislation is there in a rustic the place justice is utilized by the army to repress folks? That’s the fact of this nation immediately,” stated Dicko, a one-time junta supporter who led the motion calling for the departure of democratically elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita earlier than he was ousted in 2020.

Malians who voted Sunday stated they hoped the structure’s approval can be a step in the proper course for a rustic mired by Islamic extremist violence for greater than a decade.

“I voted in order that this new structure would deliver us peace and stability,” stated Moctar Diallo, a retired driver in Kalasoribougou. “We’re in a state of affairs the place solely the brand new selections can deliver us peace.”

The proposed draft structure creates a two-chamber parliament, the Nationwide Meeting and the Senate. Till now the nation has solely had a Nationwide Meeting. The draft additionally consolidates the place of the President of Mali, a transfer that has drawn a lot political debate.

The present structure, relationship from 1992, states that “the federal government determines and conducts the coverage of the nation.” Within the new structure, the federal government “conducts the coverage of the nation decided by the president.”

Goita and his junta promised a swift return to democracy after overthrowing the president in August 2020, capitalizing on Malians’ rising frustration with the federal government’s lack of ability to cease Islamic extremist violence.

9 months later, although, the military colonel consolidated energy by means of a second coup that sidelined transitional leaders. The worldwide group pressed for elections however the junta stated it wanted to revise the structure amongst different steps earlier than going forward.

Mali’s authorities is now promising to carry elections in February 2024. However the delays have already got contributed to deteriorating relations with worldwide companions. France, the one-time colonizer, finally pulled out its troops who had been preventing Islamic extremists for 9 years in an effort to stabilize the nation.

Tensions even have mounted with the U.N. presence in Mali, the place the mission often known as MINUSMA has some 15,000 peacekeepers. On Friday, Malian Overseas Minister Abdoulaye Diop informed the U.N. Safety Council that these forces ought to go away instantly. The highest diplomat claimed that the peacekeepers have failed of their decade-long mission.

In latest months, Mali’s authorities has constrained the peacekeepers’ skill to function and international locations equivalent to Benin, Germany, Sweden, Ivory Coast and the United Kingdom have introduced troop withdrawals.


Related Press author Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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