Mali: Ruling junta postpones constitutional referendum

The ruling junta in Mali announced on Friday that it would postpone a constitutional referendum scheduled for March 19, while assuring that it would respect its commitments to return civilians to the helm of the country in 2024.

“The date of the referendum scheduled for March 19, 2023 (…) will be slightly postponed,” government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said in a statement read to the press. This referendum is the first step supposed to be validated by the vote on the way to elections in February 2024 and a return to civilian rule.

The junta justifies this postponement by the installation of the representations of the election management body in all regions of the country and by the desire to popularize the draft new Constitution.

“The new date for the referendum will be set after consultation with the independent election management authority and all the actors in the electoral process,” the statement added.

This constitution is a key element of the vast reform project invoked by the military to justify continuing to rule this country until 2024, which is facing the spread of jihadism and a deep multi-faceted crisis.

The version of the constitution presented as final, handed to the head of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, on February 27, affirms the “attachment to the republican form and secularity of the state.

Mali has been plagued since 2012 by the spread of jihadism and violence of all kinds. The junta pushed out French soldiers in 2022 amid great acrimony and has turned militarily and politically to Russia.

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