Security forces reportedly used tear gas and batons to disperse a protest, initiated by the civic opposition movement Trop c’est trop (“Enough is enough”), that took place in the capital Bamako on Saturday, June 10, to denounce proposed constitutional amendments. The local governor stated that the demonstration was prohibited under the state of emergency ongoing in the country, set to remain in place until October 31, 2017. The political opposition and civil society groups called for a meeting to take place on Monday, June 12, to discuss future plans for protest. Related demonstrations (e.g. sit-in protests, marches, etc.) are expected in the coming weeks.
Trop c’est trop 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 then blocked access to it.
The proposed constitutional reforms were approved by the National Assembly on June 3, with the stated goals of providing the country with solid institutions capable of consolidating democratic foundations and adapting it to the political and social evolution of the country.
The amended constitution, if adopted, 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.
According to the opposition, the security situation in the central and northern regions makes it difficult to hold a free and fair vote. In addition, opposition members have criticized what they consider exorbitant powers that would be granted to the president.
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 more general 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.