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Mali: muslim leaders call for vote against draft constitution over 'principle of secularism'

Members of the Malian League of Imams and Scholars for Islamic Solidarity of the Mall, LIMAMA, hold a meeting to show opposition to maintaining secularism in all its forms   -  
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An influential organisation of religious leaders in Mali on Tuesday called on its followers to reject a new constitution being drawn up under the country's junta leadership maintaining the principle of secularism.

The proposal to change Mali's constitution aims to enable the military-run West African nation to return to civilian rule.

The new constitution is supposed to be put to a plebiscite, originally scheduled for March 19, but the junta has made no comment on the timetable amid widespread doubts about the date.

The junta's declared goal is to hold elections in February 2024 that would lead to the restoration of civilian rule.

A constitutional draft received by junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita late last month stated an "attachment to the republican form and to the secularism of the state".

"Secularism is not opposed to religion and to beliefs," the drafts says, adding its aim was to "promote and reinforce living together based on tolerance, dialogue and mutual understanding".

But the Mali League of Imams and Scholars for Islamic Solidarity called Tuesday for the "removal pure and simple of the word" secularism and for it to be replaced with "multiconfessional state".

It called on all "patriotic Muslims" to vote against the draft constitution in its current form.

Mali is a Muslim-majority country.

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