A renowned journalist with 40 years of experience in writing about foreign affairs and EU politics Martin Banks gives his assessment of the current political situation in Mali.
One of the current topics on the African continent is the political agenda in Mali. The country has experienced two total changes of power over the past year, while about 6 million people need humanitarian assistance due to the unstable security situation in the Sahel region. According to the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, 2020 was the deadliest year of militant Islamist violence in the Sahel, a vast area that includes Mali, with an estimated 4,250 fatalities, an increase of 60% compared with 2019.
Assimi Goita, who now heads the transitional government, is trying to put the country in order to hold elections early next year. In May, Mali’s president and prime minister were ousted by Goïta, the officer who led last year’s coup and became vice-president of an interim government. Goïta says former President Bah Ndaw and Moctar Ouane, the country’s former prime minister, failed in their duties and were seeking to sabotage the country’s transition.
In addition to inner-political problems, a terrorist threat hangs over the country. Therefore, the Malian authorities are taking all necessary measures to restore security.
Despite the fact that the Constitutional Court of Bamako accepted the candidacy of the former interim vice-president and current transitional leader of Mali, as the country’s legitimate president, regional institutions such as ECOWAS and the AU do not accept this position. Also, international partners, in particular France, are in no hurry to recognize the leader supported by the Malian people. Thus, annihilating the sovereignty of the country and the desire of the people.
For example, Paris believes that Goita is not capable of leading an unstable West African country to a peaceful transition. By the way, Mali’s long-term instability, although there are French soldiers, is another topic for reflection. Perhaps Paris saw in general Goita a strong leader who is unlikely to bend under the neocolonial policy of the metropolis.
General Goita does not rule out the possibility of running for president in the 2022 elections: saying he meets all legal requirements for presidential candidates under the country’s constitution: he is of Malian origin, is 38 years old (the threshold is 35 years) and has no criminal record. However, there is some disagreement in the Charter of the Transitional Period and the Constitution of the country regarding the possibility of nominating Assimi Goita for the presidential election. Based on article 9 of the transition charter, adopted in 2020, the president and vice-president of the transitional period do not have the right to participate in presidential and parliamentary elections.
At the same time, the new leader of Mali has a high rating among the population. He formed a balanced government and has not abandoned agreements with other countries. Diplomatic missions have been allowed to continue their work in Mali and Mali’s constitutional court has officially recognized and “legitimized” Goïta.
The overthrow of the pro-French Ibrahim Keith played an important role in strengthening the authority of Goita. Therefore, the appearance of his candidacy in the presidential election is quite real, especially since the legitimacy of any government lies in the ability of the government to meet the moral requirements of its people.