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The participants in the Assises nationale de la refondation, presented as consultations prior to the elections and the return of civilians to power in Mali, proposed Thursday, December 30 in Bamako to extend the current transition of the military junta of “Six months to five years”.
Authors of successive coups d’état in August 2020 and May 2021, the military in power in Mali had committed themselves, under pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and a party of the international community, to hand over power to civilians after presidential and legislative elections initially scheduled for February 2022.
But the junta, led by Colonel Assimi Goïta, had finally informed ECOWAS that it was unable to meet the agreed timetable and had instructed the National Assizes to draw up an electoral calendar.
ECOWAS reiterated in mid-December its demand for elections on February 27 to return power to civilians and threatened the junta with new sanctions if the timetable was not kept.
“Reassure the Malian people”
“The participants spoke in favor of extending the transition in order to be able to carry out structural institutional reforms and allow credible, fair and transparent elections. The advanced deadlines vary from six months to five years ”, indicates a final report read Thursday at the end of the Assises, in the presence of Colonel Goïta.
“In accordance with the recommendations of the National Assizes, the government will put in place a timetable aimed at ensuring a peaceful and secure constitutional return”, declared Assimi Goïta, during the closing ceremony of the consultations, which started on December 11 in different circles and municipalities of the country.
“This is therefore the opportunity and the place to reassure the Malian people of our commitment and our determination regarding the implementation of the resolutions resulting from these Sovereign Assizes”, continued the interim president. He invited ECOWAS to “Further support Mali in carrying out actions by supporting the forthcoming organization of elections”.
A member of Colonel Goita’s entourage also told AFP on Thursday that a Malian delegation “Will travel to Accra on Friday to hand over to the current President of ECOWAS [le président ghanéen Nana Akufo-Addo] a document on the timeframe for the transition, the timetable for the organization of the elections ”. The Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdoulaye Diop and Zeïny Moulaye, president of the National Assizes, will be part of the delegation, according to the same source.
“Crucial moment of the transition”
Presented by the authorities as a crucial moment in the transition opened since the 2020 putsch, these Assises, whose final phase took place from Monday to Thursday in Bamako, were boycotted by many Malian organizations.
These consultations are supposed to lead to recommendations for reforms intended to remedy the ills of the country caught in the turmoil since the outbreak of independence and jihadist insurgencies in 2012.
Mali has already experienced such national consultations in the past. This is one of the grievances of the organizations which have decided not to take part, by calling for the rapid holding of elections.
On December 11, the Exchange Framework, a meeting of several parties and groupings of parties, ruled in a press release that these Assises were only one “Dilatory maneuver” intended to prolong the transition, on the part of a government “Without reference mark or compass”.
Strong tensions with France
A day earlier, other important actors, within a permanent strategic framework (PSC), had also warned that the conclusions of the Assises would not engage them. “Not at all”.
The participants in the Assizes also recommended Thursday to “Develop new military partnerships with military powers to better defend national sovereignty”, from “Dissolve all the militias and integrate them into the Malian army” and of “Militarize the police”, according to the final report.
Strong tensions oppose the junta to France, a former colonial power which recently decided to reorganize its system in the Sahel, and in particular in Mali, intended to fight the jihadist groups operating in the region.
Bamako recently denied any deployment on its territory of mercenaries from the sulphurous Russian paramilitary group Wagner, denounced by some fifteen Western powers involved in the anti-jihadist fight in the Sahel.