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Mali Opposition Plans More Protests to Demand President's Ouster

Thousands marched on July 10, 2020, in Bamako in anti-government demonstrations urged by an opposition group that rejects the president's promises of reforms.
Thousands marched on July 10, 2020, in Bamako in anti-government demonstrations urged by an opposition group that rejects the president's promises of reforms.

Protesters in Mali are planning to go to the streets again this week as opponents continue to demand the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Tensions are growing after the opposition in Mali rejected a plan by West African leaders to end the country’s political crisis.

Streets were mostly quiet early Monday in Bamako, the capital, aside from a call from opposition activists for people to resume acts of civil disobedience and block the main roads to paralyze the country.

Youth leaders within the so-called June 5 opposition Movement, known as M5-RFP, have asked their supporters to demonstrate peacefully to again demand President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s resignation. Adama Ben Diarra is one of leaders of the June 5 movement.

He explains that the only option that should prevail in Mali is President Keita’s departure. He said that Africa’s destiny is at stake in Mali and when the Malian people act accordingly, it will teach a lesson to all African leaders, with repercussions all across the continent.

Organizers say the protests have not fully resumed because a strategic meeting with senior leaders of the June 5 Movement is not scheduled until Tuesday – indicating to observers a diversity of opinions – or disagreements – within the movement.

Those criticizing the movement point to what they see as a lack of unified leadership despite a common goal. The movement gathers civil society, political parties, and other groups behind one motto: IBK’s resignation.

Choguel Maiga is a former minister. He is now the chair the June 5 strategic committee.

Maiga told VOA that religious leaders, civil society, youth, political parties and unions have one thing in common: they are afraid of the future. He says they are rallying together and the mobilization will grow bigger.

Is being fed up with the president enough to offer a political alternative for Mali’s future? Many analysts worry that legitimate demands for reforms, good governance and transparency would not be addressed even with a regime change.

Young Malians are eager for economic opportunities and peace in a country that has been battling jihadist insurrection for more than nine years. These dreams echo similar aspirations seen in other African nations recently.

Adama Ben Diarra of the June 5 Movement said youth organizations in Mali are close to their counterparts in Senegal (Y en a marre), in Burkina Faso (Balai citoyen) or DRC (Filimbi and Lucha). They share the same views on poor governance but, to him, there is no governance at all in Mali. He said that is why he wants to demonstrate until what he calls the final victory.

In another development which shows the dire security situation in the country, Mali's army suffered new losses in twin attacks Sunday that left at least five soldiers dead. The bloodshed came almost six weeks after jihadists ambushed a military convoy, also in central Mali, killing 24 soldiers.