Mali’s opposition has vowed to stage nationwide protests on Tuesday, seeking the ousting of embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after a lull in a six-month crisis rocking the fragile Sahel state.
Addressing reporters in the capital Bamako, opposition figure Choguel Maiga on Friday said that there would be nationwide rallies to demand Keita’s resignation, and urged civil disobedience.
“We will stage decentralised protests in the six communes of Bamako, in the regional capitals, and in the diaspora,” he said.
Keita has come under increasing pressure from the so-called June 5 Movement, which has channelled deep anger over a dire economy, perceived graft and the government’s failure to quash a brutal jihadist conflict.
The group is named after the date of its first mass protest against the president.
A subsequent protest on July 10 turned violent, precipitating the current impasse. Eleven people died in clashes with security forces over the following days.
According to reports, in a bid to defuse tensions, leaders from the West African bloc ECOWAS last month proposed a unity government, among other measures.
But the June 5 Movement rebuffed the offer and continued to demand Keita’s departure.
The loose coalition of opposition group and religious leaders declared a truce until the end of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival, however.
At the conference on Friday, another June 5 Movement leader, Mountaga Tall, said Tuesday’s rally will be a “record demonstration”.
Successive protests have shaken the 75-year-old president’s grip on power, as he was already facing increasing pressure to end Mali’s jihadist conflict.
The country has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the central Mali, and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in the conflict to date and hundreds of thousands have had to flee their homes.
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