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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Mali Drops French as Official Language Reflecting Mounting Tensions with France

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BAMAKO, Mali – More than six decades after gaining independence from France, Mali has officially removed French as its official language. This decision is part of the country’s new constitution, adopted on Saturday, July 22, 2023, according to RT.

The constitutional court of Bamako validated the final results of a June referendum on the draft constitution on Friday, which reportedly received 96.91% approval from voters.

Although French will continue to serve as the primary working language, the country’s 13 national languages will now be formally recognized as official languages.

Furthermore, an additional 70 local languages will be retained, including Bambara, Bobo, Dogon, and Minianka, some of which were granted national language status through a decree in 1982.

Mali has experienced significant political instability, marked by jihadist insurgencies and two coups in August 2020 and May 2021.

A military junta has ruled the country since then. The junta claims that a new constitution is critical for the country’s reconstruction and has promised to return to civilian rule with elections scheduled for February 2024.

Interim President Assimi Goita announced on Saturday that the implementation of the new constitutional framework signals the advent of the Fourth Republic in the former French colony.

Tensions between Bamako and Paris have intensified in recent years, fueled by growing anti-French sentiments across France’s former West African colonies.

These sentiments are a result of perceived military failures against jihadists and allegations of political interference by France.

In August, France withdrew its remaining troops from Mali, concluding a nine-year military operation against armed groups in the country.

Later in the year, the Malian military government ordered all NGOs, including French-funded aid groups, to cease operations.

This move came in response to Paris’ decision to halt development aid to Bamako due to concerns about Mali’s cooperation with the Wagner Russian private military company.

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