Mali junta ‘suspends’ activities by political parties

Mali’s ruling military junta on Wednesday ordered the suspension of all political activities, saying the move is needed to maintain public order.

“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,” under a decree decided by junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita, a government spokesman said.

The decree came after more than 80 political parties and civil groups on April 1 issued joint statements calling for presidential elections “as soon as possible” and an end to military rule.

The West African country has been ruled by juntas since back-to-back coups in 2020 and 2021, with the worsening security situation compounded by a humanitarian and political crisis.

In June 2022, the junta said presidential elections would be held in February and power transferred back to civilians on March 26.

But the elections were postponed and the junta gave no further indication as to its intentions.

Government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga justified the suspension of party activities by the “sterile discussions” during an attempt at national dialogue earlier this year. Opposition voices have been largely stifled under junta rule.

“Subversive acts by political parties are multiplying,” said the decree, read out to reporters by Maiga.

The spokesman added: “We cannot carry out such a crucial dialogue… amid cacophony and confusion.”

The junta banned the activities of a rare new opposition coalition in March, citing “threats of disturbance to public order”.

The group was highly critical of military rule and proposed “a new way” for Malians who since 2012 have seen the country ravaged by groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

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

Since seizing power in 2020, the junta ended several alliances, including with the European Union and former colonial power France, and instead fostered closer ties with Russia.

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