Various Malian political groups have expressed their strong displeasure with the junta’s unilateral decision to postpone the presidential election, which was intended to restore civilian rule in the country.
The ruling junta announced on Monday, September 25th, that it would delay the presidential election initially scheduled for February 2024 in Mali, a nation grappling with jihadist challenges. A government spokesperson stated that new dates for the voting would be provided at a later time. The reasons cited for the delay included issues related to the adoption of a new Constitution earlier this year and a review of electoral lists. Additionally, a dispute with the French company Idemia, which the junta claimed was involved in the census process, was cited.
The M5-RFP opposition coalition strongly criticized the unilateral decision to postpone the two rounds of voting, initially planned for February 4th and 18th, 2024. They emphasized the imperative need for the junta to uphold its commitments. The M5-RFP had led protests against then-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in 2020, eventually resulting in his ousting through a coup. However, the M5-RFP, which had become critics of the ruling junta, found themselves sidelined by the new authorities.
Since Monday, September 25th, other political parties have also voiced their objections to the postponement of the February 2024 elections. The Democratic League for Change expressed its disappointment and unequivocal condemnation of the junta’s attempt to hold Malian democracy hostage. The Yelema party attributed the move to a lack of foresight, incompetence on the part of the authorities, and their failure to honor their commitments. The opposition party Parena argued that holding elections is primarily a matter of political will and that some of the technical reasons cited by the junta could have been avoided.
Former Malian Justice Minister Mamadou Ismaila Konaté took to social media to accuse the junta of attempting to shift blame for the postponement, mainly onto a French company providing civil identity services, as a way to make up for its inability to effectively manage public affairs.
In the face of the junta’s announcement, the regional bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) has not yet issued an official response. However, since 2020, ECOWAS has been exerting pressure on the junta to restore civilian rule. The organization, which upholds a “zero tolerance” policy for coups d’etat, has faced a series of coups in Mali’s neighboring countries, including Burkina Faso, Niger, and Guinea.
This latest postponement by the Mali junta represents another setback in the timeline for the return of power to elected civilians. The military, responsible for consecutive coups in 2020 and 2021, had previously pledged legislative elections for February 2022.