Mali: Imam Mahmoud Dicko and international community call for calm

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on Wednesday, 15 July 2020 17:43
Mali Protests
Anti-government protesters burn tires and barricade roads in the capital Bamako, Mali Friday, July 10, 2020. Thousands marched Friday in Mali's capital in anti-government demonstrations urged by an opposition group that rejects the president's promises of reforms. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed)

Following two days of deadly clashes over the weekend between anti-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta protesters and security forces in Bamako, the AU, ECOWAS, UN and EU have stated that they are “very concerned” about the situation and “strongly condemn the use of violence as a solution to the crisis”.

As violence over the weekend claimed at least 11 lives, based on a figure provided by an AFP source working as an emergency room head at a large hospital in the capital, representatives of the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the UN and the EU in Mali condemned “the use of lethal force in the maintenance of order and invite[d] all stakeholders to exercise restraint and to always prioritise dialogue”.

In a joint statement published in the early morning hours on Monday, the organisations also called for the release of the opposition protest leaders, who demand the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, arrested over the weekend.

Representatives of the four organisations in Mali stated that they are “convinced” that the conclusions of a recent ECOWAS Good Offices Mission can “serve as the foundation for an appropriate solution”. The mission cited the “need” to establish a “consensus government of national unity”.

It also advocated for the organisation of legislative by-elections in the constituencies in which the constitutional court had overturned the results after elections in March and April.

Dicko issues appeal for calm

In a speech given earlier in the day on Sunday during the burial of the protesters killed in clashes that had erupted over the previous two days, the Imam Mahmoud Dicko, considered to be the true leader of the 5 June Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP), issued an appeal for calm to his supporters.

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Do not provoke anyone. Do not attack anyone. I will address you all this afternoon and it will be broadcast on television. Before that, do not set fire to petrol stations or this district. Calm down, please! Calm down!” Dicko said in a video shot in the mosque where he preaches – the epicentre of the clashes – which aired on Sunday morning.

Late in the evening on Saturday, President Keïta made a televised address in an attempt to restore calm to the Malian capital. He announced his decision “to repeal the licenses of the remaining members of the constitutional court and to begin to implement the recommendations issued by the ECOWAS mission”. “This de facto dissolution of the court will enable us, starting next week, to ask relevant authorities to nominate new members so that the newly formed court can quickly help us find solutions to the disputes arising from the legislative elections,” he added.

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