Mali’s military junta announced this Monday (25), for the second time, the postponement of presidential elections that would return power to civilians. A new forecast for the election was not immediately presented — which, according to the military, will be done soon.
The originally planned dates for the first and second round, February 4 and 18, 2024, respectively, will be changed “for technical reasons”, said the regime’s spokesman, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, in Bamako, the capital of the African country.
The transition will be made “exclusively through presidential elections”, according to a statement from the military, a decision that bury the possibility of renewing the legislature before a vote to choose the president.
The justifications include the review of electoral lists and adaptation to changes in the Constitution. Changes to the country’s charter, approved by 97% of voters in the June vote, had paved the way for a return to civilian rule.
Although some of the clauses aroused distrust among the opposition, who said the changes gave the president too much power, regional bodies considered the vote an important test of the junta’s willingness to make the transition.
“Nothing explains the postponement of the presidential elections,” said Amadou Koita, president of Mali’s Yeleen-Kura Socialist Party, according to the Associated Press.
In August 2020, the then president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, resigned after mutinous military officers arrested him and the prime minister, Boubou Cissé.
The coup came after months of anti-government protests that took to the streets of Bamako. Protesters complained about corruption in the government, the economic crisis and the inefficiency of the coalition trying to combat Islamic extremists in the north of the country.
The acts remained peaceful until the police repressed the protesters, leaving dozens dead. From then on, the movement began calling for the president’s resignation. ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) tried to calm the situation on three occasions. In the last one before the coup, after an extraordinary conference with all member states, the bloc made recommendations to pacify the opposition and protesters.
Among them was the formation of a government of national unity that included the opposition and the resignation of 31 deputies elected after a controversial decision by the Constitutional Court that favored Keita’s government, in addition to the recomposition of the court itself, dissolved in response to the acts. The government tried to put the recommendations into practice, but the opposition did not give in and continued calling for the president’s ouster.
In May of the following year, a new coup detained the three main names of the transitional government, deepening political instability.
At the end of 2021, the junta said it would not be able to hold elections scheduled for February 2022, which led to sanctions from ECOWAS. The restrictions had been eased with the military’s commitment to new elections in February 2024 — now postponed.
The bloc has tried to raise the tone against its members after the wave of coups in the region. After the ruptures in Mali and Burkina Faso, the group said it would not tolerate further overthrows of governments among its members. Since then, however, Niger has joined the list. Uncertainty regarding the elections is a feeling that permeates most of these countries.