Mali holds referendum on new constitution

19 June 2023
Flag of Mali (photo credit: David_Peterson via pixabay)
Flag of Mali (photo credit: David_Peterson via pixabay)
Votes are being counted in Mali from a referendum on changing the constitution that the military rulers and regional powers have said will pave the way to elections and a return to civilian rule. The military government, which seized power in coups in 2020 and 2021, promised to hold the plebiscite as part of a transition to democracy under pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Voting on Sunday [18 June] began at 08:00 GMT and provisional results are expected within 72 hours. Presidential elections are scheduled for February 2024. Voter turnout was projected to be low in the country of 21 million due to armed conflict. But it will be seen as an indicator of the military administration’s ability to restore stability and generate popular enthusiasm for its agenda. [...] Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque said that although around 8 million Malians are eligible to vote, “many of them will not be able to cast their ballots because there are large swathes of land in the north in the centre of the country that are in the hands of armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL [ISIS]”. Reporting from the capital, Bamako, Haque said that in the northern city of Kidal, there is no vote taking place, and in Timbuktu, armed groups have threatened to attack polling stations. [...] Some of the changes in the committee-drafted constitution are contentious, with proponents saying they would strengthen fragile political institutions and opponents insisting they would give the president sweeping powers. But regional bodies and the United Nations see the referendum as a crucial test of the military’s willingness to stick to the transition and hold a nationwide democratic process, particularly when violent religious groups are stepping up attacks.
Read the full article here: Al Jazeera


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