The interim government has postponed a constitutional referendum, a key step on the country’s path toward elections meant to restore democracy after a military takeover in 2020.
Government spokesman Col. Abdoulaye Maiga said in a statement that “the date of the referendum planned under the political, institutional and electoral reforms of the transition will be slightly postponed. A new date will be set after consultation with the independent electoral management authority and other actors.” There was no mention of a new referendum date.
According to Al Jazeera, the referendum is a milestone on the road to elections promised for February 2024. With its postponement, the military will miss the first deadline on a timetable it drew up to return Mali to civilian rule.
The delay had been expected for some time because almost no arrangements had been made for the vote and the draft constitution was handed over to interim president and coup leader Assimi Goita only on February 27, 2023.
In January 2022, Mali’s main economic and political bloc the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed severe sanctions after the transitional authorities strayed from an electoral calendar previously agreed to, when the military government was considering remaining in power for up to five years. After months of back and forth with Mali’s military rulers, ECOWAS accepted a new 24-month transition that was to begin in March 2022. It lifted sanctions in July 2022 but kept Mali suspended from the bloc.
Mali has been rocked by two coups since August 2020, spurred in part by frustration over the failure of authorities to block a violent Islamist insurgency that has spread through West Africa over the past decade, reports France24.