Following a military coup in Mali, a conference tasked with setting a timetable for democratic elections stated on Thursday that elections displayed for February should be postponed by six to five years, in part due to security concerns.
Mali’s transitional administration agreed to hold elections in February 2022, precisely 18 months after President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita was deposed by an army faction commanded by Colonel Assimi Goita.
However, it has made little progress and blamed the disorganization and brutality of Islamists in the central and north parts of the nation.
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has sanctioned the coup leaders, West Africa’s primary political and economic organization, and more sanctions have been threatened if Mali does not submit a plan for February elections by Friday.
The administration has stated that it will consider the National Refoundation Conference’s suggestions and decide on a new election timetable by the end of January.
A prolonged transition back to democracy could isolate Mali from its neighbours and from former colonial power France, which has thousands of soldiers positioned there against rebels linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State.
It could also affect the democracy in West and Central Africa, where military forces and leaders of Chad and Guinea are also under stress to arrange elections and give up authority.
The planned election schedule arrives at a politically sensitive time.
France is diminishing its military presence in northern Mali, while Russia has dispatched private military contractors to train Malian troops, a move that Western nations fear marks the start of a larger Russian engagement.