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26 Sep, 2023 12:47

Mali postpones presidential election

The ruling junta has attributed the move to “technical reasons”
Mali postpones presidential election

The ruling junta in Mali announced on Monday that the presidential election scheduled for next February is being postponed. The election was supposed to facilitate the restoration of civilian leadership in the jihadist-hit West African nation. 

The two rounds of voting, originally scheduled for February 4 and February 18, “will be slightly delayed due to technical reasons,” government spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga said Monday. 

“The new dates for the presidential election will be communicated later,” Maiga said.  

The country’s military leadership attributed the postponement to the adoption of a new constitution, the updating of election lists, and issues with a census database. The government spokesman mentioned a dispute with the French company Idemia, which the junta claims is involved in the census process. 

The authorities are also refusing to organize legislative elections that were originally scheduled for the end of 2023 before the presidential election. According to a statement, the country’s leadership “has decided to organise, exclusively, the presidential election.” 

Following pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mali’s military leaders had committed to holding the election in February. As a result of this pledge, the regional bloc lifted a set of trade and financial sanctions on Mali. 

In January 2022, the military government decided to rule for up to five years before enacting a transition of power, a step that led to additional sanctions being imposed that same month. 

This past June, Malians voted in a referendum to adopt a new constitution that granted the head of state sweeping powers. The vote had been repeatedly postponed.   

The military leaders had also promised to hold legislative elections in February 2022. However, the junta, which is led by military officer Assimi Goita, announced that it was unable to adhere to the timetable agreed upon with ECOWAS at the end of 2021.

Mali saw back-to-back coups in 2020 and 2021, both of which were led by Goita. The second coup saw the removal of the country’s interim civilian leaders appointed after the initial coup and Goita being reinstated as interim president.