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Mali junta cracks down on political activity

April 11, 2024

Citing the need to maintain public order, the Malian junta suspended all political party activities until further notice.

Mali junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita
Mali junta leader Assimi Goita signed the decree suspending political activities in the countryImage: OUSMANE MAKAVELI/AFP/Getty Images

Mali's military junta issued a decree suspending the activities of political parties, government spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga said in a statement read on state television Wednesday night.

"Until further notice, for reasons of public order, the activities of political parties and the activities of a political character of associations are suspended across the whole country," Maiga said, citing a decree by junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita.

Maiga justified suspending party activities by the "sterile discussions" during an attempt at national dialogue earlier this year. Opposition voices have been largely stifled under the junta's rule.

Also on Thursday, the UN urged Mali's junta to repeal the suspension of political parties.

"We are deeply concerned by the decree suspending the activities of political parties and other civic associations," the UN rights office said on X, formerly Twitter.

The organization said the decree "must be immediately repealed."

Opposition demands elections

Goita's decree came after more than 80 political parties and civil groups issued a joint statement on April 1 calling for presidential elections "as soon as possible" and an end to military rule.

"We will use all legal and legitimate avenues for the return of normal constitutional order in our country," the groups said in a joint statement with over 20 signatories, including a major opposition coalition and the toppled ex-president's party.

The UN said last month that at least four organizations had been dissolved in Mali since December 2023, including groups related to good governance, elections and the opposition.

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Military rule in Mali

Mali has been under military rule since August 2020, the first of eight coups in West and Central Africa in four years, including in neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Mali's current junta seized power in a second coup in 2021 and later promised to restore civilian rule by March 26, following elections that it said would take place in February.

However, the junta said last September that it would indefinitely postpone the February elections on technical grounds, sparking outrage among political groups.

dh/sms (AFP, Reuters)