In Mali, opponents on the radar of justice

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Choguel Maïga, now head of the Malian government, on May 28, 2021 in Bamako.

A presidential plane whose purchase is suspected of having given rise to financial embezzlement, an audio message considered as an insult, criticisms considered as “Public disorder” or even land which would have been acquired illegally. The range of cases before the Malian justice is wide, and the proceedings instituted have no link between them; except that all concern political figures who have made a dissonant voice heard by the transitional authorities.

Six months after his appointment, the government of Choguel Maïga made the judicial machine a dreaded tool of the Malian political class. In a country where the denunciation of the mismanagement and impunity of the rulers was one of the ferments of the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) in August 2020, the entry into the justice ministry of Mamoudou Kassogué, served until – there by a reputation of intractable prosecutor, could have been interpreted as a response to popular demand and the sign of a new deal.

“Nothing more dangerous than impunity”

This was not long in making itself felt with the detention at the end of August of the former prime minister of IBK, Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, accused in particular of “Forgery, use of forgery and falsification of documents” and D’“Harm to public property by embezzlement” in the purchase in 2014 of an aircraft for the then presidency. A case that this ambitious, with the powerful networks woven from Algiers to Paris via Abidjan, thought to be buried, but which resurfaced after a televised statement by the prosecutor of the Supreme Court, explaining that the new “Minister of justice considered that this case should not be the subject of a classification without continuation”, car “There is nothing more dangerous for the good health of a Republic than impunity. “

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” The Tiger “ as his supporters nickname him, has since been a prisoner in the Bamako remand center, devoting his time to his defense rather than preparing his campaign for a presidential election, the postponement of which beyond the end of February is no longer in doubt. . A conviction would disqualify him from the race, as would Moussa Mara, who held the same post a few years earlier, and was charged with ” forgery and use of forgery “ and placed under judicial supervision on November 29. “An individual criticized me in 2013 for having withdrawn his land for the benefit of another [au moment où il était maire de la commune IV de Bamako], but this complaint has already been quashed by the administrative court. I don’t want to accuse anyone, but if there is a will to block me, it is clumsy ”, Moussa Mara cautiously declares.

“Attack on the State’s credit”

A verbal caution that Issa Kaou Ndjim and Oumar Mariko – two former partners of Choguel Maïga in the popular movement which precipitated the overthrow of IBK – did not have – and that they are paying dearly. The first, son-in-law of the influential Imam Dicko, laudator of the president of the transition, Colonel Assimi Goïta, and vice-president of the National Transitional Council which serves as interim Parliament, was sentenced on December 3 to six months in prison with stay and 500,000 CFA francs (760 euros) fine for “Damage to the State’s credit and insults committed via social networks”. At the end of October, he was sent behind bars a few days after declaring that the Prime Minister, engaged in a conflict with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which could lead to new sanctions on the 12th. December, “Holds an irresponsible speech which takes the country into the abyss”.

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The second, Oumar Mariko, figure of the radical Malian left, also known for his flowery language, was arrested on December 6 with two of his relatives after having treated in a message circulating on social networks the Prime Minister of ” liar “. He also claimed to have refrained from kicking him off for disrespecting the “martyrs” of democracy, who fell in 1991 under the bullets of the dictator Moussa Traoré, of whom Choguel Maïga remains one of the first defenders. Placed in preventive detention until the hearing set for February 15, 2022, he is accused in particular of “Dissemination of insults and threats”. “We do not know who the complainant is, nor how the document constituting the complaint was obtained. What is clear, however, is that Oumar Mariko is one of the most vocal opponents of the extension of the transition and that the best way to silence him is to put him in prison ”, denounces his lawyer Mamadou Ismaïla Konaté.

Silencing critical voices

While the Malian power begins Saturday, December 11 the first phase of the “national refoundation meeting”, at the end of which Bamako should produce a new electoral calendar, several observers on the spot believe that if the proceedings initiated respond to an unsatisfied popular demand under the previous regimes, they mainly aim to exclude those who could contest too strongly an extension of the timetable for the transition.

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“With Boubèye Maïga, who thought he was protected as a former boss of the intelligence services, the government sent the message that no one within the political class is untouchable, analyzes an observer on site, noting the strong links that now exist between the transitional authorities and the judiciary. Before its fall, to bring the fraudulent election of 31 deputies to justice, IBK had to considerably increase the income of magistrates, recalls this source. The power of today, which assumes its will to muzzle critical voices, holds the judges with this file. “

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In Mali, opponents on the radar of justice

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