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Mali Junta: February presidential election faces technical setbacks

The military government in Mali has announced a delay in the presidential election initially scheduled for February, a crucial step to restore civilian leadership in the strife-torn West African nation.

The postponement of the two-round election, initially slated for February 4 and 18, comes from “technical reasons,” according to government spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga, who addressed reporters on Monday.

Maiga explained that these technical challenges encompass problems associated with the recent adoption of a new constitution and a comprehensive review of electoral lists. Furthermore, he cited an ongoing dispute with the French firm Idemia, which has a role in the census process.

“The new dates for the presidential election will be communicated later,” Maiga announced.

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Mali’s military leadership had previously committed to holding the election in February following intense pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This pressure led to the regional bloc lifting a set of trade and financial sanctions on Mali in July of the previous year.

These sanctions were imposed in January 2022 when the military government contemplated remaining in power for up to five years.

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On June 18 of the current year, Malians participated in a referendum, also delayed by several months, introducing a new constitution. Critics argued that the new constitution granted the head of state extensive powers. Still, the government maintained that it would pave the way for elections and the reestablishment of civilian rule.