Mali junta comes under fire from PM's allies for first time

Mali Map of Mali.  By Sophie RAMIS, Vincent LEFAI (AFP)
Map of Mali. By Sophie RAMIS, Vincent LEFAI (AFP)

The political movement behind Mali's civilian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga on Friday openly criticised the West African nation's military rulers for the first time.

The M5-RFP movement came out strongly against the colonels who seized power in 2020, further extending their rule after they failed to meet a March deadline to hold elections and hand over power to a civilian government.

The M5 statement also opposed proposals to promote the colonels to the rank of generals and to launch talks with armed jihadists.

The proposals emerged from recent national consultations organised by the junta which intends to carry them out.

The M5 said the proposals, which include several more years of military rule, were "tendentious" and "offended public opinion".

AFP could not confirm if Maiga, who was appointed by the junta, supported the statement from M5, which is riven by factionalism.

Boubacar Traore, who signed the statement, told AFP it came from the faction backing Maiga.

But the prime minister has made no comment.

There has been speculation for months that Maiga, who appears isolated with limited room to manoeuvre, is to be replaced.

The colonels, who have cracked down on any dissent, have kept a tight hold on the reins of power, following a second putsch in 2021.

The M5 statement says a "pact" between civilians and soldiers was "broken" last year when nearly all M5 ministers were removed from government "without consultation" with Maiga.

The colonels have not set a new date to hand over power.

Maiga announced the junta will only organise elections once the security situation has completely stabilised.

In April, the military authorities suspended all party-political activities after muzzling opponents, journalists and human rights activists.

Mali has since 2012 been plunged into a political and security crisis fuelled by attacks from jihadist and other armed groups, as well as a separatist struggle in the north.