Mali’s military government has cited vague “technical reasons” to slightly postpone presidential elections that were slated for February 2024, stirring concerns over their commitment to restoring civilian rule.
The already delayed vote was meant to be a crucial step in the junta’s pledge for a democratic transition after coups in 2020 and 2021 drew international condemnation.
But leader Assimi Goita has dragged his feet on the timeline and agreed with West African leaders to hold elections in February and restore constitutional order. The new delay risks further sanctions imposed after the coups by the regional bloc ECOWAS.
Goita initially promised polls in early 2022. His junta has retained power since deferring elections and sparring with ECOWAS despite mediation efforts. They have provided murky justifications for postponing the vote.
With this latest delay, Mali appears set to miss yet another democratic milestone. Goita may be seeking to prolong his rule by any means, despite promising otherwise to ease sanctions crushing Mali’s economy.
If the junta continues reneging on their commitments, ECOWAS may have little choice but to intensify pressure. Mali’s people deserve the freedom to shape their nation’s course through a credible vote. The countdown to their long-awaited democracy must not be stalled any longer.