Military Government in Mali Adopts New Constitution with Increased Powers.

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Enhanced Powers for President and Armed Forces

The military government in Mali has recently approved a new constitution that grants greater powers to both the president and the armed forces. As a result, Interim President Col Assimi Goïta now possesses the authority to dictate government policies and dissolve parliament. Moreover, the constitution creates a senate and downgrades French from an official to a working language. These reforms come amidst concerns that they may enable the military to backtrack on its promise of returning power to civilian leaders following the upcoming presidential election in February 2024.

Controversial Referendum Results

The electoral commission reported that 97% of votes cast in last month’s referendum supported the new constitution. However, the opposition movement, consisting of political parties and civil society organizations, has contested the results. They argue that the referendum had “numerous irregularities” and “violations of the law,” and thus, the outcome should be invalidated. Despite legal efforts to annul the results due to the incomplete coverage of the vote across Mali, the constitutional court rejected the case.

Fears of Delayed Democratic Transition

Critics worry that the expanded powers given to the military and president might hinder the transition to civilian leadership in the country. With Col Assimi Goïta’s increased authority, there are concerns that the military junta may hold on to power even after the upcoming elections. The opposition movement denounces these changes and labels them as a threat to democracy.

Struggle against Jihadist Insurgency

Mali has faced a long-standing insurgency by Islamist groups controlling parts of the country for over a decade. The government believes that the new constitution will aid in curbing the spread of the 11-year jihadist insurgency. However, there is skepticism about the military government’s progress in combating the Islamists. Despite their efforts, data suggests that the insurgency remains largely unresolved.

Complex International Relations

Mali’s decision to expel all 12,000 UN peacekeepers and employ 1,000 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group for security support has further complicated the country’s international relations. Additionally, last year, France’s soldiers were ordered to leave, leading to growing resentment towards the former colonial power and its relationship with Mali and West Africa as a whole. These geopolitical complexities add further challenges to Mali’s efforts to address security concerns and embark on a stable democratic transition.

SOURCE: Ref Image from The News Chronicle

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