By John Ikani
Mali’s military administration has announced a delay of presidential elections initially slated for February, a crucial step towards reinstating civilian leadership.
The election, originally planned for February 4th and 18th, 2024, “will be slightly delayed for technical reasons,” announced Abdoulaye Maiga, the junta’s spokesperson, in a statement addressed to reporters in Bamako, the capital, on Monday.
The revised election dates will be announced later, he added, linking the delay to the implementation of the new constitution, endorsed in June, and a review of electoral registers.
In addition, Maiga pointed out a dispute with Idemia, a French firm responsible for providing biometric passports to Mali and allegedly involved in establishing a civil registry database.
In late June, voters gave their approval to constitutional changes, which critics argued were designed to prolong military rule beyond the presidential election.
However, the government contended that the vote, which itself had faced several months of delays, would pave the way for presidential elections and a return to civilian governance after the August 2020 coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
In July, the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) lifted trade and financial sanctions imposed on Mali in January 2022, following the military rulers’ commitment to hold the February elections.
Previously, the military government had contemplated the possibility of retaining power for up to five years.