Mali's military government postpones a presidential election intended to restore civilian rule

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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s military government has postponed a presidential election that was expected to return the West African nation to democracy following a 2020 coup, a government spokesperson said Monday.

The presidential election scheduled for February 2024 is being delayed for "technical reasons” to allow the transitional government to review its election data and to address a new constitutional provision that would delay the second round of the vote, government spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga told reporters in Bamako, the capital city.

“The transitional government specifies that the new dates for the presidential election will be communicated at a later date, following discussions with the Independent Election Management Authority (AIGE),” Maiga said.

It is the second time that Mali’s military government – which emerged from two coups in 2020 – has postponed the country’s presidential election.

Politicians in Mali criticized the decision, which could draw economic sanctions from West Africa’s regional bloc, ECOWAS. The bloc eased sanctions on Mali in July 2022 after the government promised to hold the election.

“Nothing explains the postponement of the presidential election,” Amadou Koita, president of Mali’s Yeleen-Kura Socialist Party, said.

Mali is dealing with attacks by armed groups linked to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State group and former rebels whose yearslong peace deal with the government failed in recent weeks.

A wave of coups in Africa's Sahel region kicked off in Mali in August 2020, when soldiers led by Col. Assimi Goita overthrew the democratically elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. The military said it would restore civilian rule within 18 months.

Seven months into the transition process, however, military leaders removed the interim president and prime minister they had appointed and swore in Goita as president of the transitional government.

Malian voters cast ballots in a June referendum on a new draft constitution in a referendum that the regime said would pave the way for elections.