Domestic and International stakeholders have acknowledged the need to address the issue, with the latest change in power seen as a missed opportunity
Despite recent political upheaval, the road to organising elections next year will continue and for Mali’s latest government there is still much work to do. Underpinning this, and efforts for a stable transition will be the establishment of an inclusive coalition of support from political actors and civic stakeholders. This has long been an area of importance. Although the context differed, the mandate read the same last year for Boubou Cissé under Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita, but recent events highlight how this remains thwarted with difficulty within the political class.
While welcoming then-Prime Minister Moctar Ouane’s field visit to the central region of the country as helping to create conditions for a successful transition, an ECOWAS communiqué in May acknowledged stakeholders’ concerns about the inclusiveness of the transition process. Days later, following the formality of his resignation and immediate reinstatement as Prime Minister, Ouane was tasked with forming a new ‘more inclusive’ government. Of course, we now know that the resulting reshuffle, alleged bypassing of Goïta, and violation of the transitional charter would be his undoing.
At the time, it was reported that the latest call for a more representative administration was preceded by key discussions a week prior. It is believed that the Mouvement du 5 Juin-Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques (M5-RFP) called for the resignation of the government, the dissolution of the Conseil National de Transition (CNT) and a “rectification of the transition”.
This marked a definitive call for change from M5, but objections to the militarization of government posts had been well publicised, and similar discontent was expressed following the release of the election schedule only a month before. It received backing from Alliance pour le Renforcement de la Démocratie (ARD) but the interim government was criticised by M5-RFP for a perceived lack of inclusiveness and overlooking the strategic orientation committee before the publication of its timetable. The 50-person committee had been formed in March to aid political and institutional transformation, including, but not limited to, electoral reform.
Change in leadership, but fractures persist
While the most recent change in power has fallen in M5’s favour, it has not been to the benefit of all political stakeholders with some seeing it as a missed opportunity. The former President Bah Ndaw and ex-Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were forcibly removed from their positions, with Goïta deciding to hand leadership to a representative of M5-RFP. As a result, Choguel Maïga, the head of the M5 Strategic Committee, was appointed new interim prime minister, while Goïta assumed the role of interim president.
The new cabinet found room for key military personnel such as Goïta’s ally Sadio Camara, but opposition groups denounced its composition for failing to follow through on the promise of an inclusive government. Parena, Alliance pour la Démocratie au Mali-Parti Africain pour la Solidarité et la Justice (Adema-PASJ) and Ensemble Pour le Mali (EPM) were all critical of the change.
It is for this reason that events over recent weeks take on a somewhat different light. Choguel Maïga has taken several ‘courtesy visits’ to his predecessors. This includes Soumana Sacko, Modibo Sidibé, and most notably Boubou Cissé – IBK’s final Prime Minister and the man that held the role at the time of last year’s coup.
Absent from this list was Moctar Ouane. Jeune Afrique reports that the recently ousted Prime Minister did not respond. But, with his new role now formalised, onlookers will observe Choguel Maïga’s dialogue closely, as his new position now grants him more responsibility to manage the transition directly.
Even more notable have been the actions of Lieutenant Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, the minister of territorial administration. Local paper L’Aube reported he has met with the leaders of Ensemble pour le Mali, (EPM), ADEMA-PASJ, la Coalition des Forces Patriotiques (COFOP) and le Conseil National de la Société Civile (CNSC).
They claim that among the issues discussed were public funding to parties and preparation ahead of next year’s election. Within the political class, there seems to be a consensus around the organisation of a single independent electoral management body. Former Prime Minister Moussa Mara reiterated his support for reform on the matter only last month and Choguel Maïga has stated it is a matter “universally requested” across the political class and civil society.
With signatories describing progress on the 2015 peace agreement as slow and Choguel Maïga’s misgivings on the pact well known, the upcoming elections appear to offer an increasingly important focal point to bind Mali’s cluster of political groups and civic organisations together. However, as the last two months have shown, consensus over how the leadership directing this change should look remains a point of friction.