More than 8 million Malians are called to the polls this Sunday. They must decide for or against the draft new Constitution, three years after the advent of the military junta.
Malians began voting in a referendum on a draft new constitution on Sunday, in the first vote since the junta took office three years ago.
Many voters were already there before the opening at 8 a.m. local time (10 a.m. French time) of the polling station at the Mamadou Goundo Simaga school, placed under the surveillance of the security forces.
Then the first voters began to choose in the voting booth between a white ballot for yes and red for no, out of sight of officials, representatives of the two camps and some national observers, before casting their vote. in a transparent ballot box.
More than 8 million voters called to the polls
About 8.4 million Malians are called upon to vote in a ballot contested by a motley opposition and which persistent insecurity compromises in several regions.
Among the changes proposed by the junta compared to the 1992 Constitution, voters will decide whether or not to accept a strengthening of the powers of the president at the head of this country confronted with the expansion of jihadists and a multidimensional crisis: security, politics , economic, humanitarian.
This acceptance is one of the stakes of the consultation. Critics of the project describe it as tailor-made for keeping the military in power beyond the presidential election scheduled for February 2024, despite their initial commitment to hand over to civilians after the elections. Results are expected within 72 hours.
The big favorite “yes”
The victory of the “yes” seems acquired. But the extent will be scrutinized, such as participation, although traditionally low, and the conditions for the conduct of the ballot.
In an environment made difficult to decipher by the opacity of the system and the restrictions imposed on expression, the vote could deliver indications, to be taken with caution, on the support of the population for the junta and its leader, the reputedly popular Colonel Assimi Goïta, as well as on the internal situation.
The soldiers who took power by force in 2020 and exercise it without sharing claim to push back the jihadists on the ground. The vote takes place less than 48 hours after the resounding leave given by Bamako to the UN mission after ten years of presence. The authorities believe that the mission has failed and that Mali can assume its security by its “own means”.
But lingering insecurity is expected to ban voting over large swaths. Where it will take place, offices are always exposed to attacks.
A Constitution that would strengthen the powers of the President
The proposed Constitution gives pride of place to the armed forces. It highlights “sovereignty”, the mantra of the junta since its advent and then the break with the former French dominant power, as well as the fight against corruption, associated with the old regime.
It distinguishes itself above all by strengthening the powers of the president. It provides for amnesty for perpetrators of coups prior to its promulgation, and fuels persistent speculation about a possible presidential candidacy of Colonel Goïta.
In a final speech on Friday, Colonel Goïta called on his fellow citizens to vote “massively” for the project, which he presented as the guarantor of a “strong state”, “democratic governance” and ” renewed confidence” of Malians in the authorities.
Source: BFM TV