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Malians approve the new draft constitution with 97% of the vote

A Malian reading the new constitution   -  
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Malians have approved the draft of a new constitution submitted by the junta in power since 2020, with 97% of the vote, the electoral authority said in Bamako on Friday, according to provisional official results.

The military has made the draft constitution an essential cornerstone in the rebuilding of Mali, which is facing widespread jihadism and a deep multi-faceted crisis. 

The ballot was marred by incidents and irregularities, according to observers and opponents of the reform.

The electoral body also announced that the turnout was 39.40%.

Critics of the new constitution claim it was tailor-made to keep the colonels in power beyond the presidential elections scheduled for February 2024, despite their initial commitment to hand over to civilians after the elections.

Voting was hampered in many central and northern localities, either by fear of jihadist attacks or by political disagreements.

Malians who voted Sunday said they hoped the constitution's approval would be a step in the right direction for a country mired by Islamic extremist violence for a decade.

The proposed draft constitution creates a two-chamber parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate; until now the country has only had a National Assembly.

The draft also consolidates the position of the President of Mali, a move that has drawn much political debate.

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