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Supporters of a Malian popular Islamic cleric postpone demonstration citing for civilian rule

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Supporters of a leading Malian religious and political figure, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, announced in a press release issued on Tuesday that they were postponing a planned march in Mali’s capital to demand the return of civilian rule.

The Coordination des mouvements, associations et sympathisants de l’Imam Mahmoud Dicko (CMAS) “has decided to postpone the peaceful and republican march of Friday October 13, 2023 for a civilian transition and support for the republican army”, announced CMAS general coordinator Youssouf Daba Diawara, without specifying a new deadline.

Imam Dicko was the tutelary figure of a protest movement that preceded the fall of civilian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, overthrown by a military coup in 2020. This religious leader is one of the few to dare openly express his disagreement with the junta, and to be able to mobilize against a backdrop of restricted freedoms under military rule.

The CMAS had called for a peaceful march on October 13 in the streets of Bamako to demand the return of civilians to power after the recent postponement of elections by the military, arguing through the voice of Mr. Daba Diawara that “the reasons for which the Malian people went out to fight the regime of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta could not be achieved”.

The Collectif pour la défense des militaires (CDM), one of the regime’s most aggressive support organizations and reputedly close to some of its cadres, had applied the following day for authorization to organize a demonstration in Bamako on the same day and on the same route as the march planned by the imam’s supporters.

According to a document authenticated, this authorization was refused on Monday by the governorate on the grounds of “high risk of unrest”.

The ruling military had pledged under international pressure to hand over power after elections scheduled for February 2024, but announced a “slight” postponement citing “technical” factors, while hostilities have resumed with separatist groups in the north and jihadists are stepping up their attacks across a vast swathe of territory.

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