Mali: the show of force of Imam Mahmoud Dicko

In Mali, thousands of demonstrators yesterday braved the risk of coronavirus contamination, to demand the departure of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. They responded to the call of the powerful Muslim religious leader Mahmoud Dicko, converted to politics since he launched, in September 2019, the structure of the Coordination of movements, associations and sympathizers (CMAS). Other civil society movements, opposition parties from Bamako and across the country joined the procession that started from Independence Square in Bamako. If the resignation of the head of state has crystallized attention, the reasons for mobilizing are not lacking for Malians: between security, economic and social crisis.

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A level imam in politics

“7 years of power is enough”, “IBK clears”, in reference to the initials of the Malian leader in power since 2013, could we read on placards on the Independence Square, in Bamako, where some of the 20,000, even a million people, according to sources, to the sound of vuvuzelas. Also visible on the images and videos circulating on social networks and the media, banners demanding the release of the former Prime Minister and main opponent Soumaïla Cissé, kidnapped on March 25 while he was campaigning for the legislative elections in its area of ​​origin, central Mali, a ballot won by the government, but with results followed by popular discontent. “We are here to demand the resignation of President IBK,” launched Issa Kaou N’Djim, an official of the Rally of Patriotic Forces in Mali by launching the demonstration after the big Friday prayer, led by Imam Oumarou Diarra of the CMAS. According to his words, the ultimatum is “launched (…) to note (the) resignation at the latest at 6 pm (local and GMT) this Friday, June 5” of President Keita, elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2018 for five years.

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Bad governance denounced

The new alliance formed around Imam Mahmoud Dicko, the Front for the Safeguarding of Democracy (FSD), which brings together opposition parties, including the main one, and Hope Mali Koura (EMK), a civil society movement led by the filmmaker and former Minister of Culture Cheick Oumar Sissoko intends to put maximum pressure on the Malian authorities. And Mahmoud Dicko, an eminent religious figure and supporter of a Wahhabi Islam, formerly close to President Keïta, does not mince words from the platform. “We condemn the mismanagement of the regime, embezzlement, embezzlement, lying,” said Imam Dicko, dressed in white and wearing a turban, during this demonstration, which was framed without incident by the police, the bigger in Bamako since the one he organized in April 2019. “IBK does not like ultimatums, but this time, if he does not listen to us, he will see worse than today”, he said. he threatened while punctuating his remarks with historical reminders of the past greatness of Mali.

At the April 2019 rally, the 66-year-old imam called for the resignation of the then Prime Minister, Soumeylou Boubèye Maiga, who had returned his apron a few days later, after the killing of some 160 Fulani civilians in Ogossagou (center) and a series of demonstrations against the management of the state. Indeed, Mali has been plagued since 2012 by a deep multiform, security, political, economic crisis. Independence and now jihadist insurgencies led by groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization, as well as intercommunity violence have left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. Departing from northern Mali, the violence spread to the center of the country, then to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

They are combined with all kinds of trafficking and large swathes of the territory escape the authority of the State.

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