Mali: Arrest of Eleven Political Opponents

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Eleven senior opposition figures were arrested on June 20th, 2024, in Bamako. They were participating in a meeting of the “March 31 Common Declaration” opposition platform, which comprises nearly all of the country’s political parties and organizations opposed to the extension of the transitional government. The transition was supposed to end three months ago but remains in place. The platform denounces these arrests as “arbitrary” and “another violation of fundamental freedoms.”

Among the eleven detained were several former ministers: Mohamed Ali Bathily of M5 Mali Kura, Yaya Sangaré of Adema, and Moustapha Dicko, also of Adema, whose home hosted the meeting.

The other detainees are primarily high-ranking leaders from Malian parties, including the Rally for Mali (RPM) of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (2013-2020) and the Party for Economic Development and Solidarity, heirs to former President Amadou Toumani Touré (2002-2012).

All arrested individuals spent the night in custody. According to police sources, the detainees have been separated into two groups: some are held at the Judicial Investigation Brigade (BIJ), while others are at the Bamako Gendarmerie Camp One.

In early April, Mali’s transitional authorities banned all political activities by parties and associations. During Thursday night’s meeting, the opposition leaders were drafting internal regulations for their platform and planning actions, including press conferences and gatherings, aiming for a return to constitutional order.

The eleven political figures are expected to be presented to a prosecutor soon, possibly today. Their supporters fear they may be charged with “attempting to destabilize the state” or “endangering state security,” charges commonly used in Mali to silence critical voices.

The legal status of former minister Bathily, who is also a lawyer, may affect the proceedings, as specific legal protocols apply to his case.

The March 31 opposition platform issued a statement condemning these arrests as “practices from another era,” asserting that they “confirm the path to dictatorship taken by the current authorities,” who aim to “perpetuate their hold on power and silence all democratic voices.”

This development highlights the ongoing struggle for democratic freedoms in Mali and the increasing tensions between the transitional government and opposition forces. The international community will be closely watching how these events unfold and their implications for Mali’s political future.


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