Mali talks propose junta rule for three more years

By Thomson Reuters May 10, 2024 | 4:43 PM

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Participants in Mali’s national dialogue on Friday recommended extending the military-led transition to democracy by three years and allowing junta leader Assimi Goita to stand in the eventual election.

The West African country has been under military rule since a coup in 2020, and tensions have risen over the junta’s failure to stick to a promised timeline for the return to constitutional rule.

Months-long nationwide consultations, which were boycotted by many of the opposition, culminated on Friday with a host of recommendations including the extension of the transition to five years from two, effectively prolonging the junta’s rule to 2027.

The substantial delay is likely to deepen concerns about democratic backsliding in West and Central Africa, where there have been eight coups over the past four years.

On the security front, participants in the consultations advised the authorities be open to dialogue with Islamist armed groups and engage with all Malian armed movements.

On the Sahara Desert’s southern fringe, Mali has been plagued by violence since 2012, when Islamist militants hijacked an uprising by the Tuareg groups who complained of government neglect and sought autonomy for the desert region they call Azawad.

The deep insecurity, economic hardships, election delays, and the authorities’ recent move to limit political activities have stoked frustration with the junta in some quarters. An alliance of political parties and civil society organisations formed in April and refused to participate in the national dialogue.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Additional reporting by Fadima Kontao; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alistair Bell)