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Mali Must Return to Democratic Governance

New interim Malian President, Colonel Assimi Goita (C), stands with members of the Supreme Court during his swearing in ceremony in Bamako on June 7, 2021.

The United States joins the international community in calling for Mali to transition on schedule to democratically elected government.

Mali Must Return to Democratic Governance
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The United States joins the international community in calling for Mali to transition on schedule to democratically elected government. That was the message U.S. Acting Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs Jeffrey DeLaurentis told the UN Security Council at recent briefing on Mali.

In addition to threats to its citizens’ security from violent extremists with ties to Al-Qaida and the Islamic State, Mali has been torn in recent years by political instability, including a coup d’état and the ousting of the civilian transition leaders within 9 months.

In August of last year, Colonel Assimi Goita led a coup that ousted the democratically elected president. After pressure from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, a transition government was established with the roles of prime minister and president held by civilians. Colonel Goita served as vice-president in that government for nine months. On May 24, 2021, he detained and ousted the civilian leaders. Days later, Mali’s constitutional court named him as transition president. On June 9, Goita appointed Choguel Kokalla Maiga, a civilian and former leader of the Patriotic Movement for Renewal, as prime minister.

The United States, along with members of the international community, has called for the release of detainees and those under house arrest in Mali. U.S. Ambassador DeLaurentis said their detention “is a direct assault on the country’s ongoing transition to the return of democracy and on the rule of law.” In addition, because a democratic civilian-led government presents the best opportunity to achieve security and prosperity in Mali, a commitment by the new transition government to holding elections as scheduled in February 2022 is a top priority.

“It is critical that the February 2022 elections be free and fair, and are administered by competent and impartial election authorities, using transparent processes,” said Ambassador DeLaurentis. He also declared that under no circumstances should the transition president, vice president, and prime minister be candidates in the upcoming presidential elections. Pointing out that a government must not lose sight of its responsibility for protection of civilians and human rights, Ambassador DeLaurentis called on the transition government “to create conditions for stability and address social grievances,” as well.

“We will consider a range of foreign policy options in response to any actions that impede the transition to a duly elected government,” Ambassador DeLaurentis said. “We stand firmly with the people [of Mali] in their aspirations for democracy, peace, development, and respect for human rights.”