The Elections May Be Postponed; Why Is Mali Looking for Partners Instead of France?
"We don't know how that process was formed, who it was formed, what its mission would be."
The French newspaper Le Point reported on the possibility of postponing Mali's general elections, peace agreements and Paris's relationship with the West African country.
Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga told AFP on September 26, 2021, that Mali's presidential and legislative elections scheduled for early 2022 could be postponed for a few weeks or months, stressing that he was looking for alternative partners for France and its unilateral decisions.
Prospects for Postponement
The elections are scheduled to take place on February 27, 2022, but face the prospect of postponement.
This will be confirmed at the end of the National Re-establishment Conference to be held in October 2021.
"The most important thing for us is to hold unchallengeable elections, on date, 27 February 2022," the prime minister said.
The election date was set, as Choguel Maiga explained, “on the basis of ECOWAS decisions without asking questions about the practical steps that must be taken to reach that date.”
He added that by the end of the conference, “we will come up with a more detailed agenda.”
"It is better to organize peaceful elections, recognized by all, than a disputed vote," the prime minister stressed.
Civilian leader Choguel Maiga was appointed by the ruling military council in June 2021 after Mali's second military coup in less than a year.
"We decided to be pragmatic," he says. To be realistic, it is very important that we do so in politics, linked to national public opinion that today supports satisfactory and credible elections."
Asked about criticism of the United Nations over the slow implementation of the 2015 peace agreement, he pledged that the Malian state would "continue to respect it."
"There are no gains for peace," he said, adding that the situation was "getting worse" as “insecurity was, at the time, only in Kidal (north), while terrorists are invading two-thirds of the country today.”
The Malian people are now asking themselves the question: "Is this the recipe we have set for ourselves when the body is not cured after six years, but the disease is spreading?" The paper says.
Choguel Maiga continues to question a development if "a change happens in the prescription, doctor, or even another diagnosis."
"These are the questions posed by the financial public, but the government's position is to say that we are still under the convention," he says.
France and Wagner
The prime minister denied any "break-up speech with France" after his September 25 speech at the United Nations against it.
In the speech, he said France had "abandoned Mali in the midst of its course" with a unilateral decision to withdraw its troops from Operation Barkhane in the north.
"We have a written agreement with France," said Choguel Maiga. We cannot disengage from her without informing us."
France made its decision "on the basis that the government was in dialogue with terrorists", while its exit from Mali was "a strong demand of the Malian people," the prime minister said.
When asked if he had a red line not to talk to some of the most extreme terrorist groups, he replied: "We do not prevent ourselves from talking to anyone other than that there are non-negotiable things, such as national unity, the sovereignty of a Malian State over its entire territory, the integrity of national territory and the republican and secular character of the State."
The Prime Minister continued: "We were told that France was leaving a number of localities, and that Operation Barkhane was leaving Mali to focus on Takuba," a new operation led by European special forces that was resolved "without the Malian government knowing its outlines."
"We don't know how that process was formed, what it was, what its mission would be," he said.
"When some areas are abandoned, what do we have left? Look for alternatives."
"All this controversy about Wagner (Russian mercenaries) is rumors right now," he said, as well as funding these groups with mining resources.
"When we conclude an agreement with a state or any partner, we will not be ashamed to make it public," the prime minister added.