In Mali, a coalition of political parties has rejected the military government’s plan for a five-year transition before elections. Mali has been under pressure from West African governments to hold elections since a May military coup d’etat, the second in less than a year.
Mali’s military leaders recently released a new timetable for the transition period to regional bloc ECOWAS, proposing a five-year plan that calls for the next presidential elections to be held in 2026.
The transition was originally projected to last 18 months, after a military junta headed by current President Assimi Goita first took power in a coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August of 2020.
Elections were previously scheduled for this February.
A coalition of major political parties in Mali released a letter rejecting the five-year plan, having also boycotted four days of national meetings, which they say were only held so that the government could propose a longer transition.
The spokesperson for the coalition, Amadou Koita, says that the grouping is calling on current military leaders to respect the transition charter.
He says the main goal of a transition is the end of the transition. It’s to work for a return to constitutional order.
“Those who want to be in power should be candidates and submit to the will of the people. We are a democracy, we are in a country where we have rights, we are a republic. Let’s respect the law,” he said.
One of the reasons given for the extension was the security situation, which has steadily declined for a decade.
Doussouba Konaté, who works for the Mali office of Accountability Lab, a transnational group that promotes good governance, says there is some truth to the claim that elections cannot be held due to insecurity.
“The insecurity argument is an argument that is really, really heavy,” she said. “It’s an argument that is really going to play a part in this, because we’re talking about democracy. What does democracy mean? Democracy means inclusivity, and taking into consideration all of the Malian population. We know very well that because of insecurity, there is a big part of the Malian population who won’t be able to be taken into consideration in the next elections.”
Konaté says that though many people oppose a longer period of military rule, some citizens support a longer transition because they appreciate seeing a Malian president who can confront the international community.
But Mali’s relationship with the international community, whether with its ECOWAS neighbors in ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, or with European countries, remains complicated.
France recently pulled out of all but one of Mali’s northern military bases, a decision French President Emmanuel Macron called a reorganization of its anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane forces, and which came after months of anti-French protests in Bamako.
ECOWAS has threatened further sanctions on Mali if the military government cannot abide by a February election deadline.
Nana Akufo-Addo, the current president of ECOWAS, is due to visit Mali Wednesday to discuss the transition timetable. An ECOWAS summit on Mali is scheduled for this Sunday in Accra.