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Mali Postpones Constitution Vote

FILE: Malian soldiers are cheered by the population as they enter a military camp in Kati, Mali. Taken July 22, 2022.

BAMAKO - Mali's ruling junta will postpone a constitutional referendum but maintain a previously agreed timeline to return to civilian rule, a government spokesperson said in a statement read to the press Friday.

"The transitional government informs national and international opinion that the date of the referendum scheduled for March 19 2023... will be slightly postponed," Bamako spokesperson Abdoulaye Maiga said.

The junta said it would first install subdivisions of the election management body in all regions of the country.

It also said it wanted to familiarise the public with the constitutional draft before holding the vote.

"The new date of the referendum will be set after consultation with the independent election management authority and all stakeholders in the electoral process," Maiga said in the statement.

A final draft handed on February 27 to junta leader Assimi Goita asserts an "attachment to republicanism and to the secularism of the state."

The 1992 constitution and a draft drawn up in October 2022 described French as "the language of official expression", but the latest revised version promotes local languages to "official" status.