Mali’s junta suspends all political activities until further notice

BAMAKO, Mali — Mali’s ruling junta has issued a decree suspending all political activities until further notice, saying it needs to preserve public order, a move that follows last year’s decision to call off elections indefinitely. 

Junta spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga read out the statement on state television late Wednesday evening, while the country was celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan in which observant Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. 

Mali has experienced two coups since 2020, amid a wave of political instability that has swept across West and Central Africa. The country has battled a worsening insurgency by jihadi groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group for over a decade. 

Col. Assimi Goita, who took charge after a second coup in 2021, promised to return the country to democracy in early 2024. But in September, the junta canceled elections scheduled for February 2024 indefinitely, citing the need for further technical preparations. 

Analysts said the move was likely a backlash against political figures, civil society and students who have expressed frustration with the junta’s repeated moves to delay the nation’s transition back to democratic rule. 

“Recent weeks saw mounting pressure by political parties and figures,” Rida Lyammouri of the Policy Center for the New South, a Morocco-based think tank, told The Associated Press. “For the first time, the public and politicians have publicly criticized junta leaders and accused them of a lack of seriousness.” 

Mali previously relied on French troops to help push back the insurgents. Amid growing frustration over the lack of progress, the ruling junta ordered French troops out and turned to Russian contractors instead for security support. The last French forces departed in August 2022 after almost a decade of operations in Mali. 

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