Malian parties say leaders arrested amid political crackdown

By Thomson Reuters Jun 21, 2024 | 7:56 AM

BAMAKO (Reuters) – An alliance of political parties and civil society groups in junta-led Mali said several of their leaders were arrested on Thursday during a private meeting at a house of a former minister, demanding in a statement their prompt release.

The West African country, which has been under military rule since a coup in 2020, in April issued a decree that restricted political life in the name of maintaining public order.

The group did not say how many people were detained, but Boubacar Toure, a representative for one of the parties, told Reuters on Friday that 11 people had been arrested at the private meeting, for the most part political leaders.

“The parties … condemn with the utmost rigor these arbitrary arrests, which violate the constitution and all the laws of Mali,” the group’s statement said.

It accused the authorities of pursuing “a path to dictatorship … with the sole aim of staying in power and silencing all democratic and republican voices.”

The authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mali’s ruling junta has suspended all activities by political parties and “associations of a political nature” after the group of political parties and civil society organisations jointly called out the authorities on March 31 for not scheduling elections within the promised time frame.

In response to the junta’s order, the group turned to the Malian Supreme Court but it is not clear when the top court will consider the appeal.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Andrea Ricci)