Technical glitches have posed a significant setback for Mali as it now faces a delay in its upcoming presidential election, originally scheduled for February.
The election was seen as a crucial step towards reinstating civilian leadership in a country grappling with ongoing conflict and instability. The announcement of the delay was made by the Malian military government, citing various technical reasons for the postponement.
Government spokesperson Abdoulaye Maiga informed reporters on Monday that the two rounds of voting, initially planned for February 4 and 18, will be rescheduled due to technical challenges. These challenges stem from the adoption of a new constitution earlier this year and a thorough review of the electoral lists. Additionally, the government expressed a dispute with French company Idemia, which has been involved in the census process.
Maiga stated that the specific dates for the upcoming presidential election will be communicated at a later time. The military government’s decision to hold the election in February was prompted by pressure from the Economic Community of West African States.
In response, ECOWAS lifted a set of trade and financial sanctions imposed on Mali in July of the previous year. These sanctions were initially imposed in January 2022 when the military government contemplated an extended five-year stay in power.
It is worth noting that a referendum took place on June 18, 2022, in Mali after experiencing several delays. The referendum led to the introduction of a new constitution, which critics argue grants extensive powers to the head of state. However, the government defended the new constitution, claiming that it would pave the way for elections and the eventual return to civilian rule.
The delayed presidential election in Mali is a significant blow to the nation’s transition towards stable governance. It highlights the numerous challenges the country still faces in achieving political stability amidst ongoing conflict. The technical glitches further underscore the importance of addressing underlying issues and ensuring the credibility and smooth functioning of the electoral process.
Amidst this setback, it is crucial for Malian authorities to work diligently to rectify the technical challenges and create a conducive environment for a transparent and fair election. Efforts must be made to resolve any disputes with involved parties, such as Idemia, to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. Additionally, the government should provide clear and timely communication regarding the rescheduled dates for the presidential election, ensuring transparency and inclusivity.
International partners and regional organisations, including ECOWAS, should continue to support Mali in its journey towards lasting peace, political stability, and the restoration of civilian leadership.