Thousands of protesters have gathered in Malian capital Bamako, calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta because of his failure to stop the escalating jihadist and inter-communal violence.
The protesters are a coalition of opposition groups, led by conservative imam Mahmoud Dicko, who are demanding political and economic reform.
Despite negotiations between the two sides earlier this week, and a pledge by the president to form a new government with opposition members, the protest has gone on as planned.
Mr. Dicko led prayers during the rally. Opposition politician Cheick Oumar Sissoko also delivered a speech calling for civil disobedience until Mr. Keïta stepped down, according to Reuters news agency.
It follows a similar rally held on June 05, which was organised by the same coalition. The group have since adopted the name “Movement of 5 June – Rally of Patriotic Forces”.
Mr. Keïta, who is 75 and known as IBK, was first elected president of the West African nation in 2013. He secured a second five-year term in 2018.
But he has come under mounting pressure in recent months due to Mali’s worsening economy, coronavirus, and a teachers’ strike. Political tensions have also arisen from a disputed legislative election in March, and allegations of corruption.
Mali has been wracked by instability since 2012, when Islamist groups hijacked an insurrection by Tuareg separatists, seizing swathes of territory in the north. But violent attacks on government forces and UN peacekeepers continue.
In recent days, the president has been pushed to make concessions to opposition groups, like raising the salaries of public teachers following a pay dispute.
A delegation from the West African regional bloc Ecowas is also mediating between the two sides.
But protesters say not enough is being done to curb corruption or fix the failing economy. (Source: BBC)