Bamako – Mali on Tuesday said that it would delay a nationwide debate on reform that the army-dominated government views as a precondition for returning to civilian rule after two coups.
The “national forum of rebuilding” was due to kick off in December in the conflict-torn Sahel state.
Mali’s interim government is facing international pressure to swiftly restore civilian rule after the military seized power in August 2020, and then deposed another civilian-led government in May.
It previously said that it would set a date for elections only after holding the nationwide forum.
But on Tuesday, the panel set up to organise the forum announced an indefinite delay.
Without specifying details, it stated that it had decided to postpone due to consultations designed to guarantee “inclusive participation” in the forum.
“A new timetable will be announced at the end of these consultations,” the panel said.
After seizing power, Mali’s military strongman Colonel Assimi Goita pledged to hold elections in February 2022.
But many view the timetable with scepticism, with the government slow to make preparations, and with jihadist violence leaving swathes of Mali outside of government control.
Amid mounting calls to restore civilian rule from the UN and West Africa bloc Ecowas, Mali’s interim prime minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga said in September that the government would fix an election date after holding a nationwide forum on what changes are needed.
He also warned at the time that organising peaceful elections took priority over speed.
Mali has been struggling to control a brutal jihadist insurgency that first emerged in 2012, before spreading to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
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