Mali’s junta to hold referendum on new constitution June 18

Mali’s ruling junta announced Friday a referendum on a new constitution would be held in the West African nation on June 18.

Government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga read out a decree on state television saying the country was called upon “to decide on the Constitution project” in June, after missing a previous deadline of March 19.

The new constitution is the first major step in plans the military has invoked to justify continuing to govern until 2024 following the overthrow of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.

Elections are due to be held in February 2024 to restore a civilian government in Bamako.”Voters will have to respond by a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to the following question,” on the referendum, the spokesman said. “Do you approve of the draft constitution?”

Members of the security forces in a nation wracked by insurgency will vote early on June 11.The draft would significantly strengthen the power of the president. 

It says the head of state, and not the government as before, “determines the policy of the nation”, appoints the prime minister and ministers and has the right to terminate their functions.

The Sahel state has been battling a security crisis since jihadist and separatist insurgencies broke out in the north in 2012.

Mali’s transitional government said on Friday it would delay a constitutional referendum that had been set to take place this month, the first in a series of scheduled polls meant to restore democracy after a military takeover in 2020.

The junta running the West African country pledged to hold presidential elections in February 2024 following pressure from regional powers to lay out an acceptable democratic transition timeline.

The March 19 referendum on a new constitution has been seen as an indicator of the junta’s commitment to organising polls on time, along with a new electoral law passed in June.

But the authorities on Friday said the referendum would be “lightly” delayed.

In a statement, they said they needed more time to get the electoral management authority up and running in all of the country’s 19 administrative regions.-AFP

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