Demonstrations against the government in Bamako on July 10, 2020. - Baba Ahmed / AP / SIPA
For the second day in a row, tension is at its peak in Mali. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, known as IBK, announced on Saturday evening the "dissolution" of the Constitutional Court in an attempt to calm the situation currently close to insurrection. No human toll of the day on Saturday was released while that of Friday left at least three dead and dozens injured.
Arrests of protest leaders
Saturday, the capital was again the victims of clashes, in the aftermath of the worst day of civil unrest that Bamako has experienced in years. The arrest since Friday evening of several of the main leaders of a dispute which directly targets the Head of State, and requests his resignation, did not relieve the fever, on the contrary. Several neighborhoods have seen men setting up roadblocks, setting tires on fire and ransacking.
The atmosphere was electric around the mosque where Imam Mahmoud Dicko preaches, a religious figure much listened to, considered as the inspirer of the protest. In an atmosphere conducive to all rumors, his supporters apparently feared that he too would be arrested and clashed with the security forces. These responded to live ammunition, seriously injuring several men, according to the entourage of the imam.
Apart from the president himself, the Constitutional Court has focused anger since it invalidated around 30 results of the legislative elections in March April. The dismissal of its nine judges was among the demands of the heterogeneous coalition, made up of religious leaders and personalities from the political world and civil society, which orchestrated the mobilization. In a brief televised address, the Head of State said that he would revoke the decrees appointing the judges of the Court who were still at their posts, which in his words amounts to "de facto dissolution". The new judges should be appointed quickly, thus paving the way for partial legislative elections in the districts where the results were invalidated.
IBK also reiterated its offer of dialogue and assured that the next government, being formed, would be "consensual, composed of republican and patriotic executives and not thugs and demolishers of the country". But for the moment, none of the president's overtures have appeased the protest which, on the contrary, took its most violent turn on Friday. For the third time in just over a month, the so-called June 5 movement had brought thousands of Malians to the streets. Dreaded for several weeks, this escalation with an unpredictable outcome alarmed the allies of Mali, worried about one more destabilizing element in a country confronted with jihadism.
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