Mali: Former Malian PM Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga Dies

Mali’s former prime minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga died on Monday. He was 67.

Maiga, who served as premier between 2017 and 2019, was undergoing treatment at a clinic in Bamako.

He was transferred to the hospital in December after he was taken ill at the prison in Bamako where he had been held since August 2021 on suspicion of corruption.

Maiga’s family sent an open letter to the junta chief Colonel Assimi Goita on 3 March asking for their relative to receive medical care abroad.

Maiga was detained and questioned over the allegedly fraudulent purchase of a presidential plane in 2014, while he was serving as defence minister.

Fall

Mali’s government auditor investigated the acquisition and found that officials had embezzled public money by overbilling for the plane.

Before his fall from grace, Maiga, a former sports journalist, enjoyed a string of high profile cabinet posts.

He was foreign minister between 2011 and 2012 and head of the intelligence service. He was also a close ally of former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was overthrown by Goita in August 2020.

Last week, Malian authorities ordered the French public broadcasters RFI and its sister TV station France 24 off the air, after claiming they had falsely accused the army of committing abuses – accusations the broadcasters reject.

The French Foreign Ministry described the decision as a grave attack on freedom of the press.

Allegations that the army, as well as jihadists, have carried out a wave of civilian killings since December 2021 were made by the head of the United Nations rights commission Michelle Bachelet and rights group Human Rights Watch.

They were then relayed in news reports by RFI and France 24.

RFI also broadcast its own report airing comments from alleged victims of abuse by the army.

Government spokesman, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, said: “The government in Bamako categorically rejects these false accusations against the courageous FAMA (Malian Armed Forces).”

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