Bamako – Mali’s military-dominated government on Thursday suggested that the poor Sahel country might take five years to return to democratic rule after holding a four-day “reform conference”.
A transition of between six months and five years will enable the junta to “carry out structural institutional reforms and (organise) credible, fair and transparent elections”, according to a document read out at the end of the forum.
“The government will put in place a timetable aimed at ensuring a peaceful and secure constitutional restoration,” junta boss Assimi Goita said in a closing speech.
In August 2020, young officers led by Goita toppled the country’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, after weeks of street protests over perceived corruption and his handling of a bloody jihadist insurgency.
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Under pressure from France and Mali’s neighbours, Goita pledged that Mali would return to civilian rule in February 2022 after holding presidential and legislative elections.
But in May this year, he staged a de facto second coup, forcing out an interim civilian government and disrupting the timetable.
The former French colony has a long history of national consultations.
But several major parties and social organisations have snubbed the process this time, demanding the swift holding of elections or criticising the discussions as fruitless.
Also Thursday, a member of Goita’s entourage said the junta would send a delegation to the regional grouping Ecowas to present the planned timetable.
Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop will be among the envoys, the official told AFP.
The postponement of promised elections sparked international condemnation and sanctions from Ecowas, the Economic Community of West African States.
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