Mali - Government
Under Mali's 1992 constitution, the president is chief of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. The president is elected to a 5-year term, with a limit of two terms. The president appoints the prime minister as head of government. The president chairs the Council of Ministers (the prime minister and 28 other ministers, including 5 women), which adopts proposals for laws submitted to the National Assembly for approval.
The National Assembly is the sole legislative arm of the government. It currently consists of 147 members. Representation is apportioned according to the population of administrative districts. Election is direct and by party or independent list. The term of office is 5 years. The Assembly meets for two regular sessions each year. It debates and votes on legislation proposed either by one of its members or by the government and has the right to question government ministers about government actions and policies. Sixteen political parties, aggregated into five parliamentary groups, are represented in the Assembly. In legislative elections held in July 2007, the ADEMA Party regained the majority it lost in 2002, winning 51 seats, ahead of another party aligned with President Toure, the Union for Republic and Democracy (URD), which won 36. The former majority party at the National Assembly, the Rassemblement Pour le Mali (RPM) of former Prime Minister Ibrahim B. Keita, won 11 seats. Other than the RPM, President Toure had the support of most of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.
Mali's constitution provides for a multiparty democracy, with the only restriction being a prohibition against parties based on ethnic, religious, regional, or gender lines. In addition to those political parties represented in the National Assembly, others are active in municipal councils.
Administratively, Mali is divided into eight regions and the capital district of Bamako, each under the authority of an appointed governor. Each region consists of five to nine districts (or cercles), administered by prefets (commandants). Cercles are divided into communes, which, in turn, are divided into villages or quarters. Since independence, successive governments have shown varying levels of commitment to a process of decentralization, whereby local governments would have greater control over resource allocation. Under the current administration, this process is ongoing, with the establishment of 702 elected municipal councils, headed by elected mayors. Election of local officials took place; greater local control over finances and the reduction of administrative control by the central government are being implemented.
Mali's legal system is based on codes inherited at independence from France. New laws have been enacted to make the system conform to Malian life, but French colonial laws not abrogated still have the force of law. The constitution provides for the independence of the judiciary. However, the Ministry of Justice appoints judges and supervises both law enforcement and judicial functions. The Supreme Court has both judicial and administrative powers. Under the constitution, there is a separate constitutional court and a high court of justice with the power to try senior government officials in cases of treason.
Although Mali’s judicial system is theoretically independent, it has been subject to political influences. Numerous business complaints are awaiting an outcome in the courts. Judges and prosecutors’ careers depend on the Ministry of Justice, and hence their independence is compromised. The judicial system is infested by corruption leading to flawed decisions. The dispute resolution process can take multiple years. Court decisions are frequently based more on corruption and political interference rather than legal merit.
Mali's government said 22 June 2017 that it would delay the 09 July 2017 referendum on constitutional amendments that would reinforce presidential powers and create new regions under an accord signed in 2015 with northern separatists. The changes had been the subject of protests in the capital, Bamako, and across the West African country. Crucially, three parties in the governing coalition asked for a delay. The government had signed a peace deal to end the separatist movement by the Coordination of Azawad Movements, led by ethnic Tuaregs. Under the deal, new regions were to be created under the constitution.
On 21 June, the Council of Ministers postponed the constitutional referendum planned for 9 July, to allow the Constitutional Court to consider a petition filed by opposition members of Parliament challenging the legality of the constitutional review process. On 4 July, the Constitutional Court ruled that the process was compliant with the constitution but proposed amendments to a number of articles, which the Government accepted. On 9 August, following months of growing tensions and demonstrations in Bamako, the platform “An tè a banna! Touche pas à ma Constitution” comprising, inter alia, political opposition members, civil society and trade union representatives, issued an ultimatum to President Keita requesting that he withdraw the draft constitution.
On 18 August 2017, President Keita announced that he was staying the referendum on the Constitution in the nation’s higher interest, to preserve a peaceful social climate and to avoid confrontations.
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