Mali’s proposed new Constitution boosts the powers of the president

Proposed changes to Mali’s Constitution would bolster the president’s power and reduce the status of the French language.

That’s according to a revised draft of the document which was handed to the country’s transitional president, Colonel Assimi Goita, on Monday.

The proposed new Constitution is a key element of the vast reform project it initiated to ensure a return to civilian rule, following an election it says will be held in February 2024.

While it is yet to be officially published, a copy seen by the AFP news agency says that the head of state, not the government, will “determine the policies of the nation.”

If approved, the president would also be responsible for appointing and firing the prime minister and government ministers, and be empowered to dissolve the National Assembly.

Proposing laws will be the prerogative of the president and the National Assembly, whereas this was previously the right of the government and MPs.

A president would be elected for five years and be limited to two terms in office.

Constitutional change is one of a string of major institutional revamps launched by the military after it ousted Mali’s last elected president in August 2020.

While the new draft also describes carrying out a coup d’etat as an offence for which there is no time limit for prosecution, those involved in the 2020 takeover would be covered by an amnesty.

Despite several political parties questioning the need for a new constitution, Goita said the draft had been drawn up “without any obstacle.”

Mali is one of the world’s poorest and most volatile countries in the world, suffering a string of coups since gaining independence from France in 1960.

It has been battling a security and political crisis since jihadist and separatist insurgencies broke out in the north of the country in 2012.