On Wednesday, June 21, the Malian government decided to delay a constitutional referendum, scheduled to be held on July 9, to a yet-to-determined date. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his cabinet postponed the referendum in an effort to ease tensions, as it faced heavy political opposition. The main aims of the referendum are to enshrine elements of the 2015 Algiers peace agreement into the constitution and establish a senate in parliament.
Three protests took place in Bamako on June 8, 10, and 16 to denounce the proposed constitutional amendments.
If adopted, the amended constitution would provide for the creation of a number of new institutions including a Court of Accounts and a senate. It would also give new powers to the president and the National Assembly, such as presidential immunity from prosecution and the ability of parliament to carry out future constitutional amendments without a referendum.
The opposition has criticized these proposals, underscoring the concentration of power in the hands of the president. Additionally, opposition members allege that the security situation in the central and northern regions makes it difficult to hold a free and fair vote.
Individuals in Mali are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations due to the risk of violence and to anticipate transportation disruptions and an increased security presence in the event of further mobilizations.
On a separate note, due to the underlying terrorist and kidnapping threats prevalent in the country, all those present in Mali are advised to remain discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc. Individuals are also advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners, to remain vigilant at all times (especially in local markets, now used by terrorists as recruitment grounds), and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities. When going out, always carry a reliable means of communication and inform a trusted contact of where you are going and when you plan to return.