- The protesters chanted and had placards that read "Enough is Enough," and "IBK, clear off" in reference to the president.
- This is the third protest organized by an opposition coalition.
- Dicko had earlier stated that they had dropped the demand for the president to resign.
Thousands of Malians turned up for anti-government demonstrations that turned chaotic on Friday. The country’s national television, ORTM, went off air after protesters forced their way to the building. It is alleged that the protesters tried to occupy the national assembly and national broadcasting house.
The police were forced to fire tear gas, so as to disperse them. Earlier, the protesters had turned up in Independence Square, in the capital, Bomako, calling for the resignation of the president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. They chanted and had placards that read “Enough is Enough,” and “IBK, clear off,” in reference to the president. This is the third protest organized by an opposition coalition.
Last month, thousands of protesters gathered in the streets on two different occasions calling for the resignation of the president. The first was held on June 5, and the second on June 19. The protests have been dubbed “Movement of 5 June- Rally of Patriotic Forces.”
A coalition of opposition group that is led by Imam Mahmoud Dicko has been demanding political and economic reforms. Dicko had earlier stated that they had dropped the demand for the president to resign. “This is because we think it will cause more problems than it will resolve,” Dicko said. “Mali’s problem is not about a government of national unity. It is a problem of governance.”
The protests came a few days after Mali’s President had promised to reform the country’s constitutional court. He made the announcement through a televised speech. “In the hours and days to come, the constitutional court will be reconvened and put into operation as soon as possible,” the president said.
The court has been at center of a political dispute after it declared results of the disputed legislative elections. It is one of the demands of his opponents, who have taken to the streets on a number of occasions.
Earlier, President Keita met Imam Dicko. A video posted by the presidency showed the meeting between the president and Dicko, an influential imam and prominent religious leader.
“We talked about everything that concerns this crisis and the country in general. I think that with the will of everyone and all the parties concerned, we will, God willing find a solution,” Dicko said in the video. He added that, as an Imam, his major role is ensuring peace in the country and around the world.
Political tensions in the country began after the disputed legislative election that was held in March. The country’s economy is also said to be worsening amid the coronavirus pandemic. Corruption is another big problem in the country. The protesters said that not much was being done to fight corruption or fix the ailing economy.
The president had earlier pledged to form a new government, inclusive of the opposition, but despite the negotiation between the two groups, the protests took place as scheduled.
The talks between the two side are being mediated by the West African Regional bloc, ECOWAS. The organization was instrumental in ensuring that the country returned to democracy in 2013, when Keita was elected. Keita secured his second five-year term in 2018.
Mali’s previous ruler, Amadou Toumani Touré, was overthrown in a military coup in 2012. Touré had spent a decade in power. The French-led military operation ousted the Islamic extremists from power.
Throughout Keita’s leadership, the militants have been attacking the country’s military personnel and the United Nations peacekeepers. The militants, with links to al-Qaeda and Islamic State, have expanded the reach to central Mali, causing animosity and violence between ethnic groups in the region.