Mali junta extends rule, opponents outraged

Hundreds of participants in Mali’s national dialogue, boycotted by major opposition groups, have recommended extending military rule for several more years.

The dialogue, which the government claims was inclusive, also greenlit junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita’s potential candidacy in the upcoming presidential election.

Boubacar Sow, the rapporteur for the dialogue, announced on state television that participants recommended a transition period extension “from two to five years.”

This implies the military junta, which seized power in 2020, would retain control until 2027. Additionally, the dialogue endorsed “promoting the candidacy of Colonel Assimi Goita in the next presidential election.”

A significant portion of the opposition refused to participate in the dialogue, accusing the military of manipulating it to solidify their grip on power.

The West African nation has been under military rule since a series of coups in 2020 and 2021. Initial promises of a February 2024 election were scrapped, with the military citing ongoing jihadist insurgency as a security concern.

This move was followed by a crackdown on dissent, with authorities suspending political activities and muzzling journalists and human rights activists in April.

Despite the opposition boycott, Goita maintains that the dialogue was “entirely inclusive.” The international community is closely monitoring the situation in Mali, with concerns growing over the military’s long-term intentions and the potential for further democratic backsliding.

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