Mali’s ruling junta has postponed the much-awaited elections indefinitely, raising a potential point of clash with regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which has been pressurising the country to transit to civilian rule.
The election was scheduled to take place in February 2024. But the Malian military-led transition government said on Monday that it couldn’t move ahead with it due to technical reasons. A junta spokesman said a new date will be announced later.
“The new date for the presidential election will be communicated later,” Abdoulaye Maiga told reporters on Bamako.
Maiga cited the need to review the electoral list in line with the reviewed constitution adopted in June. He also noted unexplained disagreement with the French company which was involved with the census.
The two-round election initially set for February 4 and 18, was meant to end over three years of political crisis that began in 2020. The soldiers led by Col Assimi Goita first took power in August of that year. And under pressure from Ecowas, they installed a civilian led transition administration, only to overthrow months later in 2021.
By end of 2021, the junta demanded more time to carry out crucial reforms.
It led to the country been subjected to hash economic sanctions and cutting ties with Western powers involved with help in fighting a decade long Islamist insurgency. It followed a proposal by the junta for a five-year transition plan, which was rejected by the West African neighbours.
Agreement on the election date was among conditions that paved way for the lifting of those sanctions later in July 2022.
The referendum approving the constitutional changes was held on June 18. Critics who campaigned to reject the draft constitution said it gave too much power to the president and that it could help the junta prolong it's stay.
The transition government had also committed to conduct legislative elections as a precursor to the presidential election.
The statement on Monday said it will now only conduct presidential election and leave the other elections for the new administration that will emerge from it.
This would be the second time the junta will postpone the elections in violation of agreement with Ecowas.
The coup in Mali opened a floodgate of coups that has seen a total of four West African countries now under military rule, pressuring regional leaders to take decisive action against undemocratic rule.