BAMAKO – Thousands of people took to the streets of Mali’s rainy capital Bamako on Tuesday renewing calls for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to step down despite international mediation efforts to resolve a political crisis.
Protests led by an opposition coalition called M5-RFP have raged since June, caused by contested local elections and perceived government corruption and incompetence.
Tensions escalated in July when police shot dead at least 11 demonstrators.
Regional powers are worried that prolonged unrest could derail the fight against Islamist extremists in the region, many of whom are centered in Mali. Their presence has rendered large areas of the center and north of Mali ungovernable.
Keita had hoped that concessions to opponents, and recommendations from a mediating delegation of regional leaders would help stem the tide of dissafection.
But the majority of protestors appeared unmoved as they filed into Bamako’s heaving Independence Square in their thousands on Tuesday, shouting “Keita step down” and “listen to your people”.
“M5-Rfp demands purely and simply the resignation of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his regime to allow for a democratic transition,” prominent M5-RFP member Ibrahim Maiga told the cheering crowd.