the army’s democratic solution is worrying

Following the arrest and forced resignation of the Malian president, the Putschist military demanded a civilian political transition with a view to new general elections. But the situation in the country raises many questions about the possibility of a quick democratic result.

“We have decided to take our responsibility to the people and to history.” On Wednesday, August 19, early in the morning, shortly after the forced resignation of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Putchist-Colonel Major Ismaël Wagué, Chief of Staff – Guard Major of the Air Force, spoke. Spokesman for the Mutists, gathered under the auspices of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, he invited civil society and the political parties in Malia to join the movement to prepare for a political transition and the organization of elections within a deadline ” reasonable”. An announcement that raises concerns in light of the political and security crisis going on throughout the country.

A civil policy transition … with whom?

The first step in the plan to end the crisis posed by the military coup, a civilian political transition to prepare for elections. An appeal addressed to the living forces in the country which are trade union movements, humanitarian organizations, religious movements and political parties.

The opposition coalition M5-RPF responded very quickly to the call and welcomed the military coup the day before, believing that it had “completed” its fight for the resignation of the president, says ready to train with the junta a political transition. The coalition “will take all initiatives” for “the development of a roadmap that has agreed on the content of the CNSP and all active forces in the country”.

It remains to be seen whether supporters of the ousted president will be able to participate in this transition.

For the military spokesman, the military intervention was their “responsibility” while the country sank into “chaos, anarchy and insecurity” and pointed the finger at government responsibility. “We are not concerned about power,” he said in his speech, reaffirming his commitment to the people.

A statement was rejected by a member of the presidential majority in Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, interviewed by France 24 on condition of anonymity: “Soldiers forced the president to announce the dissolution of the National Assembly to prevent his powers from returning to the presidency. “We condemn the coup and demand the return of power to the legitimate president,” he concluded, with the exception of negotiations.

The resignation of the President of the National Assembly, Moussa Timbiné, was part of the protesters’ demands after his questionable election during the legislative election in April. ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, responsible for Mediation, had unsuccessfully requested its resignation.

“President IBK made a mistake by refusing to dissolve the Assembly, but he is not the only one. The opposition has also shown stubbornness in this crisis,” said Moussa Djiré, political observer and president of the Malian civil society Nouvelle Chance, contacted by France 24 “We can not rejoice in a coup because it signals the failure of political negotiations. But in Mali, it is possible to bring politicians together quickly if power changes.”

Elections within a “reasonable” time frame?

Five months after the legislative election, Mali would therefore go to the polls again. “Credible general elections” must be held within a “reasonable period of time,” a spokesman for the coup leaders said. However, this announcement raises concerns in more ways than one. It must be said that there is no budget to hold such elections in Mali, which has been hit by the Covid-19 crisis and the social protest movement, is already in a critical economic situation. To make matters worse, ECOWAS, for its part, strongly condemned the coup and announced the freezing of financial exchanges between its 15 members and Mali.

Another cause for concern, and not least, is the country’s security situation, which has deteriorated significantly in recent years. “Today in Mali, only a small part of Bamako is truly protected,” laments Aljoner Tine, an independent UN human rights expert in Mali, contacted by France 24. “The uprising has invaded the three-border zone with a new phenomenon: frontal attacks on the armies of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, often successfully “, he continues. “However, the army is the last bulwark against the jihadists. In this context, it seems very complicated to organize a credible vote.”

The legitimacy of the army in question

Finally, if the political crisis in Mali is real, is military power all the more credible to the Malian people? In a note of 30 April, the UN pointed out “increase in summary executions and executed or involuntary disappearances” during Malian military operations.

“Several Malian soldiers are accused of being involved in this type of crime and the mistrust of part of the civilian population towards the army is very real,” confirms independent UN expert Aljoner Tine. “The G5 Sahel staff handed over these soldiers to Malian justice. The investigations have been opened by the military tribunal but they are generally very slow,” he lamented.

>> To read also: “Citizen Coalition for Sahel: ‘Military means do not ensure the protection of civilians”.

Malian Minister of Justice and Human Rights Malick Coulibaly, has repeatedly argued that the accused soldiers should be tried. Some today are worried that the army’s abuses will undermine these investigations. “With the military coup, the army becomes a judge and a party,” said the former presidential majority questioned anonymously by France 24. “The government is supposed to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement in the north. But if the army has the power, who controls its action on the ground?”