In apparent defiance of the West African bloc – Ecowas – the military junta in Mali has unveiled a five-year long transition roadmap.
According to the document, the military will hand over power to a democratically elected civilian administration at the latest five years from now.
The decision was announced after the conclusion of a four-day national consultative forum convened by the military-dominated transition government.
The “National Consultation on Reform”, which took place from 27th to 30th December, was designed to produce recommendations for reforms to rectify the issues that led to the political crisis that led to two consecutive coups in the country, the transition administration said.
Among these is the protracted jihadist insurgency stemming from 2012.
Junta leader and transition president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, said in a statement while formally opening the deliberations that it would “make an unflinching assessment of the state of the nation and draw the best lessons from it”.
“It will also be your task to make concrete proposals, to devise a solution for ending the crisis,” he told the delegates drawn from diverse representative groups.
Mali plunged into its current crisis following an August 2020 coup.
Nine months later, specifically in May 2021, the military staged a second coup, removing the civilian-led transition administration it had installed under pressure from Ecowas.
The sub-regional bloc eventually ordered for a transfer of power by February 2022.
The junta and its backers have all along insisted that the time was insufficient to conduct elections.
Extend junta’s mandate
The national conference notably proposed the extension of the junta’s current mandate of six months to five years.
Among others, it also recommended for the development of new military partnerships between Mali and other military powers as well as the disbandment of all militia groups and their integration into the Malian army, according to the document.
"The participants were in favour of extending the transition period in order to carry out the institutional reforms that will allow for credible, fair and transparent elections. The deadlines put forward vary from six months to five years," the final communique issued after the consultation forum notes.
Demand for elections
Last month, Ecowas reiterated its demand for elections in February, amid threats of further sanctions in January if the junta fails to take action towards conducting elections.
On December 12, Goita had promised Ecowas that his administration would provide it with a new election schedule by January 31.
The four-day dialogue followed nationwide meetings held in 51 of the 60 geographical divisions that make up the vast West Africa nation, with the exceptions of parts of the restive northern region.
Consultations were also reportedly held among diaspora Malians in 26 countries.
Reports indicate that the discussions were boycotted by many opposition and prodemocracy organisations which are opposed to term extension. These groups have rejected the mandate extension proposal.