Mali's interim President Assimi Goita is totally eligible to take part in the presidential race in 2022. This opinion was voiced by journalists of the Italian publication Osservatorio Globale, who had analysed the issue from the legal standpoint.
“Despite provisions of the Transitional Charter of Mali, which has served as the basic law of the country since last year, the current interim President Assimi Goita may try to run for president,” the journalists say.
Last year, national-minded officers overthrew unpopular pro-French President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Mali. The Transitional Charter of Mali was adopted after negotiations with the opposition and under pressure from the regional organization Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on which Paris has a strong influence. This document defines the powers of the interim authorities until the next President and parliament are elected. In particular, it prohibits the current President and vice-President of Mali from standing for election.
However, after analyzing the document, the authors of the publication concluded that the Transitional Charter of Mali was an unconstitutional document that flagrantly violated several provisions of Mali's basic law. All of its prohibitions are legally dubious and can be challenged.
“In particular, the document contravenes Article 121 of the Constitution of the Republic of Mali. ‘Constitution is the basis of any authority in the Republic of Mali,’ and contrary to Article 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of Mali which says that the source of national sovereignty is the people, it has not been approved by the citizens of Mali,” journalists say. “The Charter places itself above the Constitution but the adoption of documents that would limit the Constitution is not provided for by the Constitution itself. The fact that the Charter was adopted by a handful of people without popular approval also contradicts Article 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of Mali, which underlines that the Constitution must be respected under all circumstances.”
“The Transitional Charter of Mali as an unconstitutional document cannot restrict the rights of the citizens of Mali, including Colonel Assimi Goita,” the article says. “The provisions of the Charter which directly contradict the Constitution should be declared invalid. Thus, the restriction of eligibility for the head of state of the current transitional period is unconstitutional and can be declared legally null and void.”
Journalists also say that Assimi Goita's ban on running for election contradicts “both the letter and the spirit of the law.”
“The next head of state must possess not only a legality but also legitimacy according to the terminology of one of the leading jurists of the 20th century Carl Schmitt. He must have the unconditional support of the country's population. Only Colonel Goita has such support among the leading political figures in the country now,” the article says.
According to a poll conducted in September by the Russian Foundation for National Values Protection, Assimi Goita is trusted by more than 70% of Malians, and his popularity has only grown in recent months.
According to the Italian publication, if Goita does not run for president, “the people of Mali will not be able to fully exercise their sovereignty to elect someone they consider worthy of the role of leader of the country.”
“The ban on Colonel Assimi Goita being elected President of Mali is both illegal and illegitimate,” the journalists say.
According to them, even the date of the election has not been yet decided in Mali. France insists that it should be held as early as February. The Malian government is inclined to postpone it until the situation becomes more or less stable in the country.
However, Mali's turning to Russian military instructors for help in the fight against terrorism, according to Osservatorio Globale, reduces Bamako's dependence on Paris. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed earlier that the Malian authorities had turned to Russia's Wagner Group.
Chances are Mali will abandon the restrictions imposed by France under these circumstances. “In the changed geopolitical situation, the Malians themselves can decide when to hold elections and who will participate in them without any pressure from France,” Osservatorio Globale writes in conclusion.