Voting on new junta constitution in Mali ends
Critics are arguing that the new constitution gives excessive powers to the President.
Voting concluded in Mali on Sunday on a new constitution in the ruling junta's first electoral test, with insecurity and political disagreement hindering voting in some areas.
Malians earlier in the day headed to the polls to vote on a new drafting constitution that the military leadership says is a step toward elections for civilian rule restoration in 2024.
Due to the wave of violence that Mali is witnessing, voter participation in the country of 21 million people was projected to be low. Voting began at 7 am local time, with results due within 72 hours.
In a speech televised on Saturday, Mali's temporary president Colonel Assimi Goita stated that the suggested constitution would "provide for a better-organized executive power while maintaining the necessary balance with the legislative power," adding that it is "(paving) the way for a new Mali."
"I am convinced this referendum will pave the way for a new Mali, a strong Mali, an efficient Mali, a Mali in the service of the well-being of its population," Goita stated.
Mali is now ruled by the military junta who took over in a coup in 2020. Nine months later, a second coup took control of the African nation from an interim civilian administration that had been in existence at the time.
The drafted constitution would establish a two-chamber legislative system, with a Senate added to the previously existing National Assembly. It would also give the president of Mali additional legislative power, a plan that has sparked political discussion in Bamako amid concerns that it gives the President too much power.
Goita has not made it clear if he wants to run for the presidency. The country is expected to vote for a president next February.
The Constitution now in effect since 1992 states that "the government determines and conducts the policy of the nation." According to the proposed new constitution, Mali's government will "conduct the policy of the nation determined by the president."
The junta's opponents have urged Malians to reject the constitution while Imam Mahmoud Dicko, a former supporter-now-turned-critic stated on Friday that “justice, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law” are under attack in the country.
In comments made to The Independent, Dicko questioned, “What kind of democracy are we talking about?,” adding, “What rule of law is there in a country where justice is used by the military to repress people?”