President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Picture: LUDOVIC MARIN/REUTERS
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Picture: LUDOVIC MARIN/REUTERS

Bamako — Mali’s embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has announced the dissolution of the constitutional court in an attempt to calm the civil unrest gripping the African country amid growing numbers of opposition leaders arrested.

The court has been at the centre of controversy since it overturned provisional results for a parliamentary poll earlier in 2020.

This has triggered protests in several cities, and on Friday several turned violent. Clashes raged again in the capital, Bamako, on Saturday as demonstrators — angered by a long-running jihadist conflict, economic woes and perceived government corruption — demanded the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Authorities say four people have died in the unrest, while six opposition figures have been detained in two days as the government cracks down on an alliance known as the June 5 Movement.

Keita  said he had repealed the licences of all remaining members of the constitutional court so new judges could be appointed from next week.

“The reformed court can quickly help us find solutions to the disputes arising from the legislative elections,” he said in an evening television address.

After a long-delayed parliamentary poll in March — which Keita’s party won — the court overturned the provisional results for about 30 seats. The move saw several members of Keita’s party elected and is widely viewed as having ignited the latest crisis.

The 75-year-old president, who has been in power since 2013, had suggested earlier in July that new constitutional court judges could revisit that decision.

As Prime Minister Boubou Cisse visited a Bamako hospital on Saturday he spoke of four dead and about 50 people injured in clashes with security forces on Friday, though doubts remained over the death toll from some of the worst unrest in years.

“The president and I remain open to dialogue,” Cisse said, adding  he would quickly form a government ready to deal with the country’s problems.


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