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Mali's transition govt sets February 2024 for presidential election

Abdoulaye Maïga, spokesperson for the Malian transitional government   -  
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The Malian government has adopted an electoral calendar for the transition three days before a summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is due to consider the tough sanctions imposed on the junta in January.

The date of the presidential election is set for February 2024, and that of the referendum on the new constitution for March 2023, according to official documents sent to AFP on Thursday.

Legislative elections are to be held between October and November 2023, and local elections in June 2023, according to these texts validated at a government meeting on Wednesday evening.

"Our authorities are further paving the way for a return to constitutional order in Mali, the scene of two coups d'état led by the same group of colonels in August 2020 and May 2021," said government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, who is also Minister of Territorial Administration, on state television on Thursday.

"The government finds this timetable (electoral and referendum) realistic," he added.

These documents were previously submitted to political and civil society actors.

The publication of this timetable is part of a schedule of bitter negotiations between Bamako and ECOWAS after the sub-regional organization placed Mali under sanctions in January and imposed a strict embargo.

The Malian junta had already issued a decree in early June stating that they would govern until March 2024. ECOWAS "regretted" that the authorities had not waited until the end of negotiations with it to set the deadline.

ECOWAS has been pressing since the military seized power in August 2020 for a swift return of civilians to lead the country, which has been plunged into a deep security and political crisis since 2012.

The sanctions further affect an already strained economy. The ECOWAS has made the lifting of the sanctions conditional on the presentation by the junta of a timetable for the transfer of power to civilians that is acceptable to it.

The timetable is to be submitted to the ECOWAS heads of state on Sunday at their summit in Accra.

A West African mediator, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, has made numerous trips to Bamako to discuss with the military authorities and try to find a compromise.

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