Mali opposition declares transition government in exile

By Melissa Chemam with RFI
Mali  Annie Risemberg, AFP
© Annie Risemberg, AFP

Malian opposition politicians have formed a transition government in exile to rival the military junta in power since a 2020 coup. This comes after military rulers failed to meet a March deadline to hold elections and hand over power to a civilian government.

"The citizen assembly of the civil transition has today elected the members of the government," read a statement on Saturday, signed by exiled Malian politician Adaman Traore, identified as the body's president.

This "civil transition (government) is the only legitimate one in Mali", the text said.

It named the Prime Minister and Defence Minister of the rival government as Mohamed Cherif Kone, one of several prominent exiled politicians listed as members.

"Our primary objective is the mobilisation of Malians residing inside the country," Aboubacrine Assadek, Finance Minister in the team of opponents in exile, told RFI's correspondent in West Africa.

"Since the launch of our initiative, the voices of opponents have been heard despite the suspension of political activities. Nothing will ever be the same again," he added.

Junta's grip

The announcement came a day after the political movement behind Mali's junta-appointed civilian prime minister, Choguel Kokalla Maiga, openly criticised the military rulers for the first time.

The colonels have kept a tight hold on power since their latest coup in 2022, suspending all party-political activities and muzzling opponents, journalists and human rights activists.

The junta justified suspending political activities in order to maintain public order.

Mali has been under military rule since a first coup in 2020, and the the junta indefinitely postponed elections, promised for February 2024, citing technical reasons.

Earlier in May, the NGO Reporters Without Borders warned that Mali, along with Burkina Faso and Niger, has been turned into "information deserts" over the past three years, following the suspension or closure of over a dozen media outlets – including RFI. 

The country 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.

For Malians, elections now appear a distant dream as the military juntas in power keep delaying processes for a return to civilian rule.

(with newswires)