Between laying the foundations for a new Mali or confiscating

On June 29, the caretaker President Assimi Goïta appointed the members of a commission responsible for drafting a bill on the Constitution of the Republic of Mali within two months. Gilles Yabi, if you think that Mali needs profound institutional and political reforms, you doubt the direction at the moment …

In a column I wrote in August 2020, I remembered that Mali 2020 was neither Sweden, nor Canada, nor Ghana, nor Botswana or Cape Verde, that it was a country in deep crisis that needed to “build, with what it has today as mobilizable human resources, a new efficient and benevolent state as well as a new democratic political system. “And this agenda was not compatible with the demand for a transition aimed at organizing elections as soon as possible. good faith of those who want a Mali who takes the path of convalescence who has recovered from those who want the longest possible transition to take advantage of power, get rich at high speed and possibly create conditions to remain in power after the transition. to know in advance, within the ruling circle in Bamako, who believes in a reform agenda and who is there only to dramatically change the level of material comfort for his family. a man does not have the impression that the construction site for the preparation of a new constitution is particularly high on the authorities’ priority list.

In recent weeks, you have published on your pages on social networks the courses of action that Wathi proposed in 2018 with regard to constitutional changes in West Africa. You remember the need to have ambitions when you have the opportunity to draft a new constitution and to show boldness and creativity …

Yes. Frankly, by observing the political practices, the dysfunction of the institutions, the interaction between the political actors and the dominant economic actors, and by looking at the security, economic and social situation today in many countries in the region and not just in Mali, I can not see how the political systems as they are organized by the current constitutions will make it possible to put the pursuit of the public interest at the center of political action again.

The countries in the region need significant democracy and also have a crucial need for a functioning state. They need institutional frameworks that can protect them from security, economic and social disasters, even when democratically elected heads of state are at the forefront, proving to be disastrous, due to incapacity or because the well-being of the population is not. their main concern. It must be acknowledged that in our contexts, even pure elections will have little chance of leading to significant changes in public governance.

Mali, like the French-speaking countries of the region, must have the ambition to break with the soft constitutions which proclaim general principles and make the assumption that the political actors will not gladly break them. Constitutions are crucial not only for reaffirming the great principles and fundamental societal choices, but also for strictly framing the decisions of those in power, elected representatives and all those who perform a public function through a coherent set of institutions and rules. The constitutional texts in Mali and other countries in the region must have the explicit aim of preventing the permanent entrenching of toxic political practices that undermine confidence in democratic political systems.

Are you afraid that this ambition to rebuild institutions is not the one of the leaders of the Mali transition?

We can not blame the Malian authorities for being primarily present in the area to assert the sovereignty of the Malian state, but the struggle for sovereignty through press releases will not be enough to restore security throughout the territory, to revive the economy, to lay the foundations for the new Mali, the famous “Mali koura” that young people dreamed of. This should go through a truly structured public debate on the country’s future constitution.

Link to WATHI publications on policy and institutional reforms:

► Constitutions

► Covid political governance

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