This has certainly been enough to sideline the political roadmap of Choguel Kokalla Maïga’s government. From reinforcing security throughout the country, which has been widely promoted by officials who praise the Malian army’s “rising power”, to reorganising general elections and auditing some public institutions: what reforms have been implemented?
While the Mali’s prime minister addressed the Conseil National de Transition (CNT) on 21 April and took stock of what he has managed to achieve, we did the same.
Four axes and 64 actions
At the beginning of March, the Bureau Opérationnel de Suivi (BOS), which coordinates with the prime minister’s office, published a progress report that indicated that 87.1% of planned actions had been completed or were in progress. This is a very concise report, which is supposed to reflect the progress of the Plan d’Action Gouvernemental (PAG), was broken down into four axes and 64 actions, and presented by the prime minister to the legislative body last July.
We lack precision on what has actually been achieved. Talking about 21 actions makes no sense if they are not detailed.
While the document claims that 21 actions have already been completed, the BOS only detailed two of them: “the availability of the single election management body’s legislative texts” and the audit of certain public institutions and agencies.
Six audits have been completed, including those of the national assembly, the high court of justice and the Autorité Malienne de Régulation des Télécommunications et des Postes.
However, there are no plans to make the conclusions of the audits public. “But the results of these audits are in the hands of the presidency, which will decide to refer certain cases to the courts, if necessary,” said the BOS.
Some of the political class deplore this opacity. “We lack precision on what has actually been achieved. Talking about 21 actions makes no sense if they are not detailed,” said a member of the expert committee of the Cadre d’Echange, a political platform that announced that it no longer recognises the authorities that have been in place since 25 March.
“To my knowledge, there is no official document that allows us to know the PAG’s progress in detail. In this context, should we take percentages that we don’t even know what they contain for granted?,” the source asked.
We contacted the ministries concerned to ask about what actions had been taken, but they did not respond to our requests. Although the BOS was willing to detail some figures and measures, it left most of our questions unanswered.
“It’s simply because in terms of the balance sheet, there is nothing to defend,” said a former minister, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Malian army’s ‘rising power’
The PAG’s first axis, estimated at more than 220bn CFA francs ($362.2m), is the “reinforcement of security throughout the national territory”, which is the subject of a government media campaign.
Reestablishing security would thus result in “the rising power of the Malian army”, which the authorities have widely praised. Recapturing localities cut off by jihadists, heavy damage inflicted on armed terrorist groups, significant seizures of arms and ammunition… Every week, the Direction des Relations Publiques de l’Armée (DIRPA) issues communiqués celebrating the tactical successes of the Forces Armées Maliennes (FAMA).
However, many observers warn that these “relative successes” are accompanied by an increase in abuses against civilians attributed to the FAMA and their Russian allies. The most recent event was the anti-terrorist operation carried out at the end of March in Moura, in the central part of the country.
While the army claims that 203 jihadist fighters were killed, many local and humanitarian sources cite between 200 and 400 victims, and that most of them were civilians.
The authorities’ stated objective is to recruit and train 12,000 new soldiers, conduct 1,000 patrols and create 28 “security zones” during the transitional period.
Despite our numerous requests to the defence ministry, it was not possible to find out the number of new recruits who have come to reinforce the 34,000 military personnel already on duty or to know the number of patrols carried out since 2021.
According to a member of the first transitional government team overthrown by Assimi Goïta last May, the army can only afford to train around 500 new recruits every year. DIRPA claims a capacity that is more than 10 times greater.
The administration returns
Along with strengthening security in the territories affected by the conflict, another of the government’s priorities is ensuring the administration’s return. In the PAG, it says it aims to return 80 sous-préfets, 12 préfets and one governor to the affected areas. “To date, 18 state agents have been reinstalled in the affected areas,” said the prime minister’s operational monitoring office, without specifying their status or areas of assignment.
“According to our representatives in the interior part of the country, the administration’s redeployment has not even started,” says the member of the Cadre d’Echange. “And basic social services are still absent from two thirds of the territory. As for the army, we are entitled to have access to recruitment indicators. The ministers in charge of major issues must appear before the CNT so that they can be questioned on these matters.”
When will elections be held?
In addition to the security issue, organising general elections has been at the heart of the tug-of-war between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mali for months. Stated as one of the PAG’s main objectives, the presidential election, which was initially scheduled for 27 February 2022, could now take place sometime before 2027.
The electoral register audit is not even underway…I am positive that the electoral register has not been updated.
The authorities have set several prerequisites: the Assises Nationales de la Refondation, which is supposed to set the course of the government’s policy, was held at the end of December 2021, and a single body will be created to manage elections. The text validating its creation is expected to be voted on by parliamentarians “in the coming weeks,” according to the BOS.
“This component is progressing well,” says the BOS, which, in addition to the single body, claims that 800,000 new voters have been added to the updated electoral register, which is now “finally reliable and usable,” according to the authorities.
“The electoral register audit is not even underway,” said a politician who wished to remain anonymous. “I am positive that the electoral register has not been updated. The annual revision of the electoral roster, from October to December, is provided for by law. To take into account new adults, those who have been struck off, those who have moved. It takes place every year. It has nothing to do with the audit that has been asked for.”
The government returning to constitutional order remains a priority for many of Mali’s external partners. But discussions with ECOWAS to agree on a date to end the transitional period are not progressing, and Mali is still under the regional institution’s financial and economic sanctions.
“For months, the French army’s presence and tensions with ECOWAS have been at the heart of the government’s policy, distracting from the real reforms the country needs. We must reach a consensus so that the sanctions can be lifted and the government can focus its efforts on Malians,” said a member of the Mouvement du 5 Juin – Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques (M5-RFP), the movement that toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and from which prime minister Maïga comes.
“Today, what information can we highlight in terms of investment in education and social measures? There is still time to do so, but there is no more time to lose,” the M5-RFP member said.
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