In Mali, a majority of voters voted in favor of the new constitution. The president and the army are thus significantly strengthened. Protests against the referendum are particularly strong in the north of the country.
The military-ruled West African crisis state of Mali is getting a new constitution that will give the president and the armed forces more power in the future. 97 percent of the participants in the constitutional referendum last Sunday voted for the new Basic Law with a turnout of 39.4 percent, as the electoral authority in the capital Bamako announced.
The results are preliminary and have yet to be announced by the Constitutional Court. Former rebel groups in northern Mali protested on Thursday that votes outside of the major cities had not been held. The nomadic Tuareg see it as a violation of a 2015 peace agreement that the north is not given greater autonomy.
Democratic transition to begin
According to the electoral authority, voting could not be carried out in 1,121 of 24,416 polling stations nationwide. More than two years after the most recent military coup in the Sahel country with around 23 million inhabitants, a democratic transition process is to begin with the constitutional referendum, at the end of which a civilian president is to be elected by next March.
It remains to be seen whether the schedule can be met after the constitutional referendum has already been delayed by three months.
Observers view passages critically
Under the new constitution, which is to replace the 1992 text, the president and the army will be significantly strengthened. The separation of civil and military power is abolished, and the army is entrusted with “executing the law”. The President gains power over the government and has a greater role in legislation.
Observers are critical of passages that could amount to an amnesty for the recent military coups. In the future, the multi-ethnic state will have thirteen official languages, while French will become the working language. In addition, new institutions such as a senate and a court of auditors will be introduced.
Hired Russian mercenaries
The security situation is very bad in northern and central Mali. Islamists, who are close to the terrorist militias IS and al-Qaeda, control large areas of the country on the edge of the Sahara. A week ago, Colonel Assimi Goïta’s military junta demanded the withdrawal of the UN stabilization mission with around 12,000 peacekeepers, which also includes 1,100 Bundeswehr soldiers. The Malian army is taking action against the terrorists with the help of Russian mercenaries. Crimes against civilians have been documented by both sides.