A month after the provisional results of a referendum on a new draft constitution, Mali's Constitutional Council has confirmed a massive victory for those who voted "yes."
96.91 percent of the votes counted backed the plans which would set out a timetable of reforms and consultations leading up to the presidential election
Announcing the result Amadou Ousmane Touré, president of the Constitutional Court , said: "It appears that the draft Constitution submitted to the electorate on June 11 and 18, 2023 was adopted by the said electorate.
"Therefore, Article One declares that the sovereign people of Mali have adopted the draft Constitution submitted to referendum on June 18, 2023."
The new constitution would strengthen the powers of the president, give pride of place to the armed forces and emphasise "sovereignty", the junta's mantra since its rise, followed by the break with the former dominant power, France and the change of focus towards Russia.
The long-awaited announcement puts an end to the hopes of opposition groups who had demanded the referendum be annulled.
Critics of the project describe it as 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.
The umbrella group United Front Against the Referendum had denounced irregularities in the ballot, both in terms of the results and the turnout
National representative of the "No" movement Mohamed Kimbiri insisted all was not lost.
"I was expecting it but my reaction is always the same because we've always asked our militants to vote 'no.'
"Now you think we've lost. We didn't lose, because with over 3 [percent] of the whole population, I think that for a start, it's a very good thing."
This first ballot since the military seized power in August 2020 is seen as an important step towards a return to civilian rule in March 2024.