Those Claiming Anambra Election Won’t Hold Are Lying, Says Ezeife

Former Anambra State Governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, speaks during an interview which aired on Channels Television’s Newsnight on October 25, 2021.

 

Former Anambra State Governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has said that those claiming the governorship election in Anambra won’t hold are lying.

There has been palpable fear in the south-east region following the deteriorating state of insecurity with many scared that the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State will not hold.

But Ezeife who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight faulted those working against the scheduled poll in the state, saying their intention is to mislead the people.

He equally alleged that some people within the system were colluding with outsiders to unleash mayhem in the South-East.

“The issue of those people saying there will be no election in Anambra State is a lie intended to mislead (the people),” he said.

The ex-governor noted that the phrase ‘unknown gunmen’ started after the April 5 attack on the Nigerian Correctional Services and the Police Headquarters in Imo State, where gunmen freed several prison inmates.

READ ALSO: Journalists Storm Police HQ, Protest Over Missing Colleague Tordue Salem

Following the attack that left at least a policeman dead, Ezeife recalled how the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma said more than 70 per cent of the attackers were not easterners.

Speaking further, he regretted that five months after the attack, the gunmen again struck in Anambra by killing Chike Akunyili, husband of the late boss of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dora Akunyili.

He added, “Remember when the incident in Owerri Prison happened when the unknown gunmen started, those people who were the unknown gunmen, Governor Hope Uzodinma said more than 70 per cent of them were not from the east,” he said.

“That happened months before Nnamdi Kanu came back, now the Akunyuli case. My own people saw it happen.

“My PA, driver and the other people who saw this thing happen never saw any group of people claiming responsibility or saying there will be no election. I cannot clearly say that nobody from IPOB is responsible. There are bad people everywhere, there may have been people especially at the beginning who acted violently and those people may be from Anambra.”

Anambra Election: APGA Chairman Predicts Landslide Victory For Party

 

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has predicted a landslide victory for the party in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State.

Victor Oye, who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, hinged the prediction on the achievements of the party in the last eight years.

“November 6 election will be won by APGA and it is going to be a landslide victory,” Oye said. “Forget all the distractions you are witnessing today. Those people you thought have left the party, they love the party.

“They are still going to work for the party. In fact, the number of people we have supporting the party in Anambra State is enough to give us victory on November 6.”

According to Oye, there is no party that can confront APGA in Anambra State because the ruling party has delivered the dividends of democracy to the people of the state.

APGA National Chairman, Victor Oye speaks during an interview on Channels Television's Politics Today on October 14, 2021.
APGA National Chairman, Victor Oye speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on October 14, 2021.

 

He listed the achievements of the party under the administration of the outgoing governor of the state, Willie Obiano.

The APGA chieftain noted that besides the construction of 102 roads and other infrastructural projects, Obiano built a brand new international airport in less than two years, a record that also has the second-longest runway in the country.

READ ALSO: Supreme Court Affirms Soludo As APGA’s Governorship Candidate

The governor also constructed the International Conference Centre that has 13,000 seaters, Oye said.

He added that the state government does not owe its workers their salaries

‘Ill-Advised Decision’

Oye took a swipe at the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke, for dumping the party for the All Progressives Congress (APC)

He described the decision as ill-advised.

He explained that Okeke’s exit from the party came as a rude shock to APGA despite the many benefits he enjoyed from Governor Obiano.

While noting that efforts were ongoing to reconcile the aggrieved deputy governor and other decampees, the party’s chairman recalled how Okeke secured his second term ticket on a platter of gold.

“For me, the man did not do well. His decision was ill-advised. Whatever might have caused that decision, it was ill-advised. He shouldn’t have taken that route.

“Obiano is the best governor you can work with. He is a very humble man, caring, understanding and tolerant. For me, I know that wherever he is today, he will be regretting.”

Supreme Court Affirms Soludo As APGA’s Governorship Candidate

APGA governorship candidate for Anambra poll, Charles Soludo. Photo: Facebook/Soludo TV

 

The Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed Professor Charles Soludo as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the Anambra election slated to hold on November 6, 2021.

The five-man panel led by Justice Mary Odili also affirmed Mr. Victor Oye as the  chairman of the party.

The apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-man panel of justices led by Justice Mary Odili, upheld the judgement of the Kano State Division of the Court of Appeal, which validated the primary election that produced Soludo.

According to the Supreme Court, the appellate court was right when it quashed a Jigawa State High Court judgement that recognised a parallel primary election that was conducted by the Jude Okeke-led faction of APGA.

It will be recalled that Soludo emerged from the primary election that was organised by the Chief Victor Oye-led faction of the party.


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Anambra Election: INEC Names Soludo As APGA Candidate, Exempts PDP


‘Judiciary Stood Firm’

Thursday’s ruling ends the long-running battle on who should fly APGA’s flag in the November 6 election. Photo: Facebook/Soludo TV

 

Thursday’s ruling ends the long-running battle over the leadership of the party and candidature for the Anambra guber poll.

In July, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had omitted the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor’s name from the list of candidates for the election and instead listed Chukwuma Umeoji as the party’s flag bearer.

The electoral body had explained that its decision was based on court orders, a move Soludo described as surprising.

“When it came last week, I was a little bit surprised; not terribly so. I have been through this road before,” Soludo told Channels Television’s Politics Today, days after INEC’s decision.

“When I ran in 2010, we had about 13 court cases in three months and thank goodness, the Nigerian judiciary stood firm and came through in the end.”

But a month later, the Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC made a u-turn and named Soludo as the APGA candidate for the Anambra election.

Again, the commission said the development was in line with court judgements on the matter.

“The commission was served with the judgement of the Court of Appeal (Kano Division) which set aside the judgement of the High Court of Jigawa State on the leadership of APGA and the nomination of its candidates for the Anambra Governorship election,” INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye explained.

Following INEC’s move, Soludo received the party’s flag and launched his campaign at an event – held in Awka – and witnessed by hundreds of APGA’s faithful at the Alex Ekwueme Square.

 

 

 

 

How Sacking Kaduna Teachers Nearly Cost Me Re-Election – El-Rufai

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai speaks during a summit in Ado Ekiti on October 14, 2021.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai speaks during a summit in Ado Ekiti on October 14, 2021.

 

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has explained how he was willing to sacrifice his second term ambition in order to give children from his state quality education.

The governor sought re-election for a second term in office in the 2019 general elections and has two more years to complete his tenure.

Speaking during the Ekiti State’s Fountain Summit 2021 with the theme ‘Investment Attractiveness and Economic Development in Ekiti State’ which held in Ado-Ekiti, El-Rufai said he was threatened with an election loss.

El-Rufai said he insisted and eventually carried out the test on teachers in Kaduna notwithstanding the threat.

READ ALSO: We Have Increased Ekiti IGR From N450m To N800m Monthly – Fayemi

“My brother here was said to have lost his second term bid the first time because he threatened to test teachers,” he said.

“I tested them and fired them before our election. When I was asked that I would lose the second term, I said if losing second term in office will give Kaduna State children a future with better primary education, I am ready to let it go.”

El-Rufai also listed two factors that enabled him retain his position as Kaduna governor, noting that he timed the mandatory test for teachers within his first two years in office and that the exercise was carried out honestly without partisan politics.

While noting that he attended government schools in his life until he went for his second degree, El-Rufai noted that his administration sent a clear message that the poor man’s child in Kaduna was eligible to emerge as governor.

He recalled that while sacking teachers, two of his colleagues backed his decision but expressed fear in implementing the policy in their respective states.

According to him, the two governors who wanted to conduct teachers’ tests after their re-elections however lost their second term bids.

Police To Deploy 34,587 Personnel For Anambra Governorship Election

File photo of Nigeria’s IGP, Usman Alkali Baba.

 

The Nigeria Police Force is set to deploy over 34,000 personnel to Anambra State, ahead of the November 6 polls.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba disclosed this while meeting with various state police commissioners and heads of formations in Abuja.

According to him, three helicopters will also be deployed for surveillance during the poll in addition to animals and other equipment.

IGP Alkali Baba further stated that the police are collaborating with sister agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the conduct of a peaceful election in the state.


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Anambra Election: You Must Remain Apolitical, IGP Tells Squadron Commanders


Earlier on Wednesday, the IGP had also assured the nation of the commitment of the force to securing public space and upholding the democratic values ahead of the gubernatorial election.

During a strategic meeting held at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, with Commanders of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) Squadrons in the country, IGP Alkali Baba said the force will channel its resources to contain the activities of criminal elements in the South-East.

The police boss further stated that the leadership of the NPF has commenced the reorganization, re-equipping, training and re-orientation of the PMF with the goal of strengthening its operational capacity and re-situating the unit to accomplish the task of confronting violent crimes in the country.

He charged the Squadron Commanders to upscale their supervisory roles to ensure their personnel demonstrate a high level of professionalism, firmness, courage and respect for human rights while carrying out their duties.

The police chief also noted that the NPF in the coming days will be implementing a robust national security action plan to refocus the internal security dynamics of the country.

In his words, an integral part of the plan would be to protect personnel and materials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The IGP noted that the Police Mobile Force, “will as usual, form a critical component of the operational plan, to deter any subversive elements that could threaten or disrupt the smooth conduct of the election”.

He reiterated that the force will continue to do all within its powers to combat all forms of criminality including banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, and violent extremism, amongst others, across the nation.

Commissioner, Falana Fault FG’s Threat To Impose State Of Emergency In Anambra

A photo combination of the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Anambra State map.

 

The Anambra State Government and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, have faulted the threat by the Federal Government to impose a state of emergency in the south-eastern state.

As part of measures to tackle the worsening insecurity in Anambra especially as the state holds a governorship election on November 6, the Federal Government had hinted at the possibility of invoking the emergency rule to tighten security.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, announced this on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

But the Anambra Government, through its Commissioner for Information, Don Adinuba has condemned the move, alleging that insecurity in the state is politically motivated.

“Since the renewed violence in Anambra State which we believe is politically motivated, not more than 15 persons have been killed. How many persons have died in Borno, Niger, Kaduna, Yobe, Zamfara, even Imo, which is APC-controlled; Ebonyi, which is APC-controlled?” he asked during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday.

The commissioner said the state has witnessed about 15 killings in the past few weeks, unlike some north-western and north-eastern states that are worst hit by banditry and terrorism.

Making reference to Borno, Niger, Kaduna, Yobe, and Zamfara which are controlled by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the commissioner slammed the Minister of Justice for mulling a state of emergency in Anambra.

“Has anybody threatened emergency rule in any of these states? For the past seven years, Anambra has remained the safest, [and] most stable in Nigeria.

“We remain the only state in the whole country that, for the past seven years, has not experienced one single bank robbery; what is going on is politically motivated and the declaration by the honourable Attorney-General of the Federation is a confirmation,” the commissioner insisted. 

“Nigerians are outraged by the threat by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN.”

‘Illegal And Unconstitutional’

A file photo of Femi Falana (SAN).

 

Falani, a human rights lawyer, has also described the move as illegal and unconstitutional.

According to him, Muhammadu Buhari’s administration “has just realised that the deployment of troops without the declaration of emergency rule in many states of the Federation is illegal and unconstitutional”.

He recalled that since 2015, President Buhari has imposed emergency rules in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Zamfara, Kaduna and the Katsina States by deploying members of the armed forces to assist the police in the restoration of law and order.

According to the senior lawyer, the President has adopted such extraordinary measures without seeking the approval of both chambers of the  National Assembly.

“In other words, since the emergency rule imposed on the North East region by President Goodluck Jonathan expired by effluxion of time, President Buhari has not renewed or extended it,” he said via a statement on Wednesday.

“The National Assembly has not challenged the illegal emergency rule imposed without any declaration as stipulated by section 305 of the Constitution.

“Hence, the threat issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation is an attempt to return to constitutionalism with respect to the imposition of emergency rule in Anambra State and other states in the North-West, North-East and South-East regions where the Federal Government is waging a full-scale war against terrorists and the so-called gunmen.”

Falana insisted that nowhere in the Constitution has the President been vested with the power to remove the elected governor of a state and suspend democratic structures.

He explained that the governor of a state can only be removed by impeachment or resignation and not by imposition of emergency rule, adding that the tenure of legislators is four years in line with the provisions of  the Constitution.

“Even though former President Olusegun Obasanjo removed two Governors via the imposition of emergency rule, the PDP-led Federal Government later jettisoned the illegal practice,” the lawyer maintained.

“Hence ex- Presidents Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan never used emergency rule to remove elected governors or suspend legislative houses and local government councils. Indeed, the Federal Government has since realised that it is unjust and immoral to remove a governor of a state since the president exclusively controls the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.

“To that extent, the Federal Government should drop the dangerous plan to remove the Governor of Anambra State and impose a Sole Administrator on the eve of the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the State.”

Anambra Gets Fourth Police Commissioner In Eight Months

Trailer Crushes Seven People To Death In Onitsha
A map of Anambra, a state in south-east Nigeria.

 

Anambra State has gotten a new Commissioner of Police, Echeng Eworo Echeng, making him the fourth CP in the state within a period of eight months.

CP Echeng becomes the 32nd police commissioner, taking over from Tony Olofu who has been transferred to the Force Headquarters in Abuja.

Prior to Olofu’s posting on September 10, Chris Owolabi took charge of the State Police Command from April 30.

However, Monday Bala Kuryas who was deployed on February 19 oversaw the state’s internal security for barely six weeks.

Although it is not clear why the police authorities have constantly changed the police commissioners, the IGP asked residents of the state to support CP Echeng in his task of protecting the lives and property of all.

Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, who announced the deployment of the new police chief in the state said the erstwhile police commissioner has been redeployed to the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

He noted that the IGP also ordered the deployment of a detachment of the police “Special Forces to Anambra State to bolster and complement the ongoing peace-building efforts of the Nigeria Police Operation Restore Peace in Anambra State.”

According to the Force spokesman, the IGP is “particularly concerned with the renewed incidents of attacks on innocent individuals and symbol of state authority in the state.”

He said the new Commissioner of Police has been charged to “mobilise both kinetic and non-kinetic law enforcement and crime-fighting approaches to reverse the negative trend, reclaim public spaces from hoodlums and restore public peace in the state.”

Until his recent posting, CP Echeng was the Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State.

He holds a first degree in History from the University of Maiduguri and has received extensive training on global peace support operations at Mission Training Cell, Kielce, Poland, amongst other tactical and leadership courses.

The new police commissioner has also served as a former Police Component Commander, Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Zonal CID, Zone-13, Ukpo, Anambra State, amongst other key positions.

The development comes barely a month to the state’s governorship election where the people would choose a leader to succeed the outgoing governor, Willie Obiano.

Anambra Election: INEC, NSA Meet Over Worsening Insecurity

 

Ahead of the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday met with the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno.

The meeting, which was held at the INEC conference room in Abuja, had in attendance the Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, heads of various security agencies, Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) as well as senior electoral officials.

Mr Monguno was represented by an NSA official, Sanusi Galadima.

In his remarks, Yakubu decried the worsening insecurity in Anambra, warning that the rate of attacks in the state may affect the commission’s plan for the poll if not properly tackled.

He said the commission is particularly concerned about the safety of staff and Adhoc staff who will help in the conduct of the election, adding that they need strong assurances of their safety during and after the election.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Invade, Set Ablaze Joe Igbokwe’s House In Anambra

According to the INEC boss, information at his disposal indicated that the attackers who have unleashed mayhem in the south-eastern state do not want the governorship election to hold next month.

While recalling the last meeting held on September 9 where the commission reviewed its preparedness for the exercise, Yakubu lamented that the attacks had increased since then.

He also decried a situation whereby many innocent lives have been lost in the region with several properties destroyed.

“From the reports we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the Governorship election scheduled for 6th November 2021 must not hold,” Yakubu said.

“This is worrisome for the Commission. We are deeply concerned that specific electoral facilities and materials could once more become targets of attack.”

“Recall that in May this year, our State Office at Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials assembled for the election at the time were destroyed.

“In addition, our store, collation center and the main office building were either totally or substantially damaged. The Commission also lost several vehicles to be used for the election.”

Despite the attacks, the INEC Chairman vowed that the electoral body would proceed with the election that is barely a month from now.

He however said INEC’s commitment would not be to the detriment of the security of about 26,000 of its officials, including National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members and university students who will be deployed for the election.

On his part, the National Security Adviser said the upsurge of attacks in the state was carried out to stop the democratic process.

Speaking through Sanusi Galadima, the NSA said his office has initiated steps in collaboration with security agencies in the country to stop the separationists’ attempts in the region ahead of the poll.

The South-East region has witnessed a high rate of criminality including killings and kidnappings in the last few months.

Dozens of police officers have been killed in such attacks in the region and public facilities including vehicles and buildings destroyed.

Merkel Congratulates Scholz On His Election Win

A  photo combination of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Finance Minister, Vice-Chancellor and the Social Democratic SPD Party’s candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

 

Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated Finance Minister Olaf Scholz from the rival Social Democrats on his election victory, a government statement said Wednesday, as Merkel’s conservatives remain in disarray after the vote.

Scholz’s SPD won 25.7 percent of the vote in Sunday’s hard-fought general election, while Merkel’s centre-right CDU-CSU bloc slumped to a record-low of 24.1 percent.

“The chancellor congratulated Olaf Scholz on Monday on his election success,” the statement said.

Merkel’s would-be conservative successor Armin Laschet has yet to publicly do so.

Despite leading the conservative alliance to its worst result in its seven-decade history, the unpopular Laschet has insisted on trying to form the next German coalition government with him as chancellor.

READ ALSO: EU Looks To Tighten Visa Restrictions On Belarus

But key conservative figures have increasingly distanced themselves from Laschet in recent days, raising doubts about his future.

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder, leader of the CSU sister party to the CDU, publicly congratulated Scholz in a press conference on Tuesday, illustrating a growing rift with Laschet.

“Olaf Scholz clearly has the better chance of becoming chancellor at the moment,” Soeder said, insisting the election result “must be accepted, it is a basic rule of democracy”.

Merkel herself is standing down after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s top economy.

But the veteran leader will stay on in a caretaker capacity until the new government is formed, expected to take weeks or even months.

With neither the SPD nor the CDU-CSU keen on teaming up again in a so-called grand coalition, the only way either can achieve a parliamentary majority is by partnering with the Greens and the pro-business FDP party.

AFP

We Will Welcome Jonathan To The APC – Akpanudoedehe

File photo: Former President Goodluck Jonathan speaks in Abuja on September 10, 2021.

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it would welcome former President Goodluck Jonathan if he decides to join the ruling party.

A chieftain of the party, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, said if the Nigerian ex-President defects to their fold, it will strengthen the party’s structure.

“I am hearing that for the first time that we are expecting the former President. That will be great news. We will welcome him; that will also strengthen the party,” Akpanudoedehe, who is also the National Secretary, APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee, said.

READ ALSO: APC Fixes October 2 To Conduct State Congresses

When asked if APC would pick Jonathan as its presidential candidate should he join its fold, the party’s spokesman neither confirmed nor opposed it.

Rather, he said the ruling party has a special waiver for new members, including the privilege of vying for any political office in the country.

“The last National Executive Council (NEC) of the party actually gave a blanket approval to any individual that if you join APC today, it is as if you are a founding member of the party.

“So, anyone who joins today has the same opportunity to run for any office in this party. It has always been so, so I am not speculating,” he added.

Jonathan emerged as Nigeria’s president after the death of ex-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010.

The former Bayelsa Governor and Yar’Adua ran under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007. 

After winning the 2011 presidential poll, Jonathan’s re-election bid was dashed as he lost to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC in 2015.

As the 2023 election draws closer, reports suggest that the ex-President might dump the PDP for the APC and that he is also considering vying for the country’s number one seat. 

Kaduna Polls: KADSIECOM Declares Election Inconclusive In Four LGs

KADSIECOM Chairman, Saratu Dikko-Audu, briefs reporters on the outcome of the just concluded elections in Kaduna State.

 

The Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM) has declared the election in four local government areas of the state as inconclusive.

Areas where the poll has been declared inconclusive include Jaba, Jemaa,  Kachia, and Soba LGAs.

Chairman of the commission, Saratu Dikko-Audu, made the declaration on Friday at a press conference to announce the results of the election.

This comes a week after KADSIECOM conducted the election in 19 out of the 23 local government areas of the state

Dikko-Audu explained that the results of the affected local governments were declared inconclusive because elections could not be held in some wards.

In the case of Jaba, the KADSIECOM boss stated that the election petition tribunal would be left to determine the matter.

According to her, two conflicting results were announced in Jaba, as well as in Kachia LGA where the entire process was not completed.

The inconclusive poll in the four areas has triggered a blame game between the APC Secretary in Kaduna, Yahaya Pate, as well as his counterpart in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as both men claimed their party won the election in the affected areas.

While Pate said the APC would study the decision of KADSIECOM and thereafter take legal action,  the PDP insisted that it won the election in the four councils and should, therefore, be declared the winner.

Meanwhile, Dikko-Audu went further to announce the results of the remaining 15 LGAs which saw the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) winning the majority of the contested chairmanship and councillorship seats.

ECOWAS Worried Over Potential Election Delay In Mali

 

The West African bloc ECOWAS said on Tuesday that it feared potential delays in elections in Mali aimed at restoring civilian rule following a coup last year.

In a statement, the group said it remained “worried by the lack of concrete action” to prepare for the vote, which has been promised for February 2022 by strongman Colonel Assimi Goita.

The announcement came at the end of a three-day mission to Mali led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has repeatedly voiced fears about the situation in Mali, one of the region’s poorest and most volatile states.

“The mission recalled the importance of respecting the date of the announced elections in order to demonstrate the credibility of the transition process,” said the ECOWAS statement, which was read out to journalists in Bamako.

Already struggling with a bloody jihadist conflict, Mali slid into political turmoil last year, culminating in a military coup in August 2020 against elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The military then appointed an interim civilian government tasked with steering back to democratic rule.

But Goita deposed the civilian leaders of this interim government in May — in a second coup — and was later declared president himself.

He has pledged to respect the February deadline for civilian elections set by the interim government, which also set October 31 as a date for holding a constitutional referendum.

Rampant insecurity in Mali, and the scale of the task, has cast doubt on the reform timetable, however.

Swathes of the vast country lie outside of government control because of a jihadist insurgency that first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the centre of the country, as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Mali is also suffers from chronic political instability.

Last week, a police special-forces commander who had been detained as part of an investigation into the killings of protesters in 2020, was released after armed police officers turned up at the prison where he was being held.

AFP