Mali junta postpones constitutional referendum

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Mali’s ruling junta will postpone a constitutional referendum but maintain a previously agreed timeline to return to civilian rule, a government spokesperson said in a statement read to the press Friday.

“The transitional government informs national and international opinion that the date of the referendum scheduled for March 19, 2023... will be slightly postponed,” Abdoulaye Maiga said.

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The referendum is a milestone on the road to elections promised for February 2024.

The junta said it would first install subdivisions of the election management body in all regions of the country.

It also said it wanted to familiarize the public with the constitutional draft before holding the vote.

“The new date of the referendum will be set after consultation with the independent election management authority and all stakeholders in the electoral process,” Maiga said in the statement.

A final draft handed on February 27 to junta leader Assimi Goita asserts an “attachment to republicanism and to the secularism of the state.”

Mali is in the throes of an 11-year-old security crisis triggered by a regional revolt in the north that developed into a full-blown extremist insurgency.

Since August 2020, it has been ruled by the military, leading to a breakup with France, the country’s traditional ally, and close ties with Russia.

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