A Referendum to Watch


Mali to decide on a New Constitution on June 18

Over the last decade one of the largest risk factors in the Sahel has to be Mali. The rise of a Militant Insurgency in 2012 set into motion a series of events which included the collapse of one Government, a Military Intervention by France and its African Allies, Elections which restored a Civilian Government, two successive Military Coups and the presence of the Russian Private Military Group Wagner.

That is a lot to unpack and for the Malian People to endure such a decade of chaos is truly a feat to behold.

That being said it appears that the current Junta in Mali is on the verge of meeting one of their self-imposed goals along their path towards new elections that will lead to a restoration of civilian led government in the Country. This goal could be acheived as soon as June 18.

One of the goals was to institute a new Constitution for the Country. The members of the Junta felt that the previous document needed to be updated. The proposed document has some very interesting provisions within such as:

It has language that offers some protections that will please advocates of Religious Liberty such as ensuring the protections of the right to worship as one sees fit but also adding that those fleeing Religious Persecution have the right to asylum in Mali. Having a Country in the Sahel to offer such protection is indeed a stunning victory which will be overshadowed by other changes.

The country will ensure that the youth of the country will be protected from both Human Trafficking and from being recruited into Violent Extremist Groups. These actions address some of the underlying regional security issues as well.

The country will now have a bicameral legislature comprised of a National Assembly and a Senate with the President of the Assembly being President of Congress with the President of the Senate being the Vice-President. The plan is to have the Body meet twice per year with the fall session lasting 75 days and the spring one 90 days.

The Judicial System will have a Supreme Court which will be the highest court in judicial and administrative matters plus a Constitutional Court will shall judge the constitutionality of laws and guarantee the fundamental rights of the human person and public freedoms.

One of the concerns that some legal scholars have is the apparent influence that President of Mali could have over the Judicial Branch. The Chief Magistrate will be appointed by a decree from the President as well as two members of the Constitutional Court.

Another interesting move is the creation of a Economic, Social, Environmental and Cultural Council. This body will provide an annual report porviding guidelines and proposals on the expectations and problams of society and present their findings to the President, Prime Minister and the Presidents of the two Houses of Parlaiment. They will be consulted on any finance law, programming law or any draft plan. The President can also request the Council to give an opinion on draft laws, ordinances or decrees relating to matters within its competence.

A key provision is allowing for the Malian Diaspora to have representation on this council which will provide for them to ensure that their voices are heard. This Body will meet twice a year in 30 day sessions which will be convened by the Government.

If passed this Constitution will enter into force within 8 days of being certified. That is a quick turnaround however meeting a goal is indeed an event that cannot and should not be ignored. In their view Mali is taking a necessary step forward. It is time for others to pay attention.


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Specialist in US Policy (Security, Assymetrical Operations and Business Development) towards Africa and Arab World (Washington DC – USA)

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