Lawmakers in Mali have approved a plan allowing the military junta to rule for up to five years, despite regional sanctions imposed on the country over delayed elections.
In line with a proposal by the transitional government, 120 members of Mali’s 121-seat interim parliament voted to adopt the bill during a session. The bill does not mention on what date a future election might be held but they voted to forbid the interim president from standing for future election.
After staging a coup in August 2020, Mali’s rulers initially promised to organise a vote in February 2022.
Citing security concerns last December, the government proposed staying in power for much longer. The chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States, president Nana Akufo-Addo said during the AU-EU Summit that a one-year transition could be deemed acceptable.
In response, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last month imposed a trade embargo and closed its borders with Mali. The bloc has called the potential length of the transition unacceptable.
On Monday, the ECOWAS commission announced its mediator for Mali, Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan would lead a mission on Thursday on a timetable for elections.
Mali’s strongman Colonel Assimi Goita has pledged to restore civilian rule, but he has refused to commit to a date.
Tensions with the junta contributed to France’s announcement last week that it was withdrawing its troops from Mali which are deployed under the anti-jihadist Barkhane force in the Sahel.
The landlocked nation of 21 million people has struggled to contain a brutal jihadist insurgency that emerged in 2012, before spreading three years later to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Across the region, thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and two million people have been displaced by the conflict, of which Mali remains the epicentre.
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