A number of opposition groups and civil society associations are calling for marches to take place in the national capital Bamako and other regional capitals on Saturday, June 17, to denounce proposed constitutional amendments. Increased security measures and traffic disruptions are to be anticipated along the (currently unannounced) march route, with a possibility for violence. Related demonstrations (e.g. sit-in protests, etc.) are expected in the coming weeks.
In response to the call for protests, the Malian government reportedly cut off access to Facebook, where organizers have been coordinating mobilization efforts.
The civic opposition movement Trop c’est trop (“Enough is enough”) has also called on citizens to boycott a referendum on proposed constitutional reforms, scheduled to take place on July 9.
A demonstration was initially scheduled to take place on June 8; hundreds of people had gathered in front of the Labor Exchange building when security forces reportedly forced demonstrators into the building and blocked access. On June 10, security forces used tear gas and batons to suppress another related protest.
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 giving the president immunity from prosecution while in office and allowing the parliament to carry out future constitutional amendments without a referendum.
The opposition has criticized these proposals as concentrating too much power into 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.
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