Mali is sinking into authoritarianism

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The Malian government’s recent decree suspending the activities of political parties and associations of a "political nature" is an anti-democratic measure. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) warns of Mali’s slide towards authoritarianism and calls on the African Union and the United Nations to strongly urge the Malian government to reverse the course it is bent on taking.

Paris, 19 April 2024. On Wednesday 10 April 2024, the Malian authorities issued a decree suspending "until further notice" and for "reasons of public order", "the activities of political parties" and those "of a political nature of associations". In a press release published on the same day, the government justified this measure by "creating the pre-requisite conditions that need to be met in order to carry out the major activities of the Transition, in particular the Inter-Malian Dialogue for Peace and National Reconciliation".

"This suspension of political parties is a flagrant violation of the new Constitution of Mali adopted by the current regime itself in July 2023. It is also a serious obstacle to inter-Malian dialogue. Albeit a flawed dialogue, this suspension now prevents parties and civil society from participating in it", declared Alice Mogwe, FIDH President.

"The government had pledged to transfer its authority to a civilian government on 26 March 2024 following a presidential election. Instead, we are witnessing the restriction of civic space and an attempt to seize power", said Drissa Traoré, Secretary General of the FIDH. "After the dissolution of associations and political parties, and the arbitrary arrests and detentions that followed, the Malian authorities are once again confirming their desire to stifle any dissenting voice and to lead Mali into an unprecedented dictatorial regime", he continued.

FIDH calls on the African Union and the United Nations to further urge the Malian authorities to repeal its anti-democratic decree, and to respect the fundamental freedoms protected by the Constitution of 22 July 2023, and regional and international legal instruments. FIDH also encourages the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to carry out a mission to promote human rights in Mali.

Mali’s civic and democratic space has been greatly reduced since the coup of May 2021

On 11 April 2024, the day after the decision was taken, the High Authority for Communication (HAC), in application of the decree, invited "all media to stop all broadcasting and publication of political party activities". FIDH denounces this attempt by the HAC to muzzle the press, which constitutes a flagrant violation of press freedom.

Since the last half of 2023, the Malian authorities have dissolved associations and political parties critical of the regime on spurious grounds. At least six associations have been dissolved, including the Observatoire pour les élections et la bonne gouvernance, the Coordination des mouvements, Associations et sympathisants de l’imam Mahmoud Dicko (CMAS) and the Association Karoual. The process of dissolving the Solidarité africaine pour la démocratie et l’indépendance (SADI) party whose situation is currently before the courts. On 18 April 2024, at the end of the Council of Ministers, the government dissolved one last association: the Coordination des Organisations de l’Appel du 20 février 2023 pour sauver le Mali. In addition, several civil society activists are subject to judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention.

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