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  • People gathered at Bamako’s Independence Square on June 19, 2020

    People gathered at Bamako’s Independence Square on June 19, 2020 | Photo: AFP/Michele Cattani

Published 19 June 2020
Opinion

 Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has lead the country since 2013.

Hundreds of protestors gathered Friday in the capital Bamako, to ask for the president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to step down after complaints of government corruption and escalating of violence.

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The crowds were headed by conservative imam Mahmoud Dicko, the face of a coalition of opposition groups that are demanding political and economic reforms.

Although president Keita was re-elected in 2018 for a second five-year term, his government has not been able to control the security crisis in northern Mali, an outbreak of the new coronavirus, a strike by teachers, and political tensions arising from a disputed legislative election in March.

The confrontations North of the country have taken the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians and hundreds more have been forcibly displaced amid attacks that have increased since 2011 when Islamist groups hijacked an insurrection by Tuareg separatists, seizing swathes of territory in the North.

The violence has spread to the frontiers with Burkina Faso and Niger and violent attacks on the government forces and UN peacekeepers have continued.

On June 5, 2020, the demonstrators took the streets massively, afterward the so-called "Movement of June 5-Rally of Patriotic forces" was created, prompting a coalition of religious leaders and civil society alongside opposition groups.

These forces took over  Bamako’s Independence Square today, waiting for a response to a letter sent to the presidential palace demanding Keita to resign.

“We decide to maintain the mobilization of all forces of the nation until the president resigns,” opposition politician Cheick Oumar Sissoko said in a speech as he called for civil disobedience and the occupation of strategic locations if they receive no answer.

After the June 5 rallies, Mali´s president pledged to raise the salary of public teachers after a long-running dispute. He also promised to enact many reforms, including forming a new unity government that would include opposition figures.

Nevertheless, the political friction in the country is escalating. As the police fired tear gas, the demonstrators also called for the National Assembly and constitutional court to be dissolved.

   

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