Mali bans media coverage of political parties after suspending their activity

The Malian journalists' association has called on the media to continue covering politics in the country 
Choguel Maige, primer ministro del Gobierno provisiona de Mali - ARCHIVO/WEB OFICIAL PREFECTURA DE MALI
Choguel Maige, Prime Minister of the Interim Government of Mali - FILE/OFFICIAL WEBSITE PREFECTURE OF MALI

The authoritarian drift in Mali continues. Shortly after announcing the suspension of political party activity, the military junta has banned the media from reporting on political parties and associations.  

In a communiqué, the coup authorities called on "all media (radio, television, print and online) to suspend the broadcasting and publication of the activities of political parties and the political activities of associations".  

Shortly after issuing this statement, the journalists' association in Mali expressed its rejection of this request and called on the media to continue covering politics in the Sahelian country. The organisation urged the media to "stand firm, remain united and mobilise to defend the right of citizens to access information". 

The National Human Rights Commission also expressed concern over the decision in a statement issued on Thursday night, warning the junta that the decision could prove detrimental. "Instead of calming the social climate, these restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms could lead to problems and tensions that the country does not need," it said.  

The UN has also condemned Mali's recent authoritarian measures, calling for their "immediate" repeal. "An open and pluralistic civic space is key to human rights, peace and security and sustainable development.  

For their part, Malian political parties and civil society groups jointly rejected the military junta's order to suspend political activities and vowed to take legal action against what they consider a "dictatorial" measure and "a serious violation of democratic freedoms"

In the midst of this situation, former minister and former Malian presidential candidate Housseini Amion Guindo has called on the Malian people to "civil disobedience until the fall of the illegal and illegitimate regime". 

Guindo issued a statement calling the recent decisions taken by the military junta "high treason" and "contempt for the Malian people", calling for "resistance" in view of its "inability to meet the essential needs of Malians (security, education, energy, health, food)". 

ARCHIVO/ONU/Sylvain Liechet Cascos azules de Chad patrullan las calles de Kidal en Mali.
Chadian peacekeepers patrol the streets of Kidal in Mali - FILE/UN/UN/Sylvain Liechet

The Malian military junta has taken these measures after several parties and associations called for democratic elections earlier this month following the expiry on 26 March of the last two-year transition period set by the authorities in 2022.

Mali has been ruled by coup regimes since August 2020. The current military junta seized power during a second coup in 2021. At the time, it promised to restore civilian rule on 26 March, after elections that it said would be held in February. 

The leader of Mali's military junta, Assimi Goita - PHOTO/FILE

However, in September the authorities announced that the elections would be postponed indefinitely for technical reasons, sparking outrage among political groups and parts of civil society.  

These measures reinforce the power of the military junta and its leader, Assimi Goita, who "has increasingly repressed peaceful dissent, political opposition and the media, shrinking the country's civic space", Human Rights Watch said.