There is a new Prime Minister in Mali. The previous incumbent, Modibo Sidibé, resigned at the end of last week. He had been in office since September 2007.
He has been replaced by Cissé, Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé (i.e. she was born Sidibé and has taken the name Cissé following her marriage.)
She is the first female PM in Mali and her appointment has been greeted as a surprise, not least for this reason. Previously, she held a ministerial position in 1991-1992 and then very briefly in 2002. However, she can be considered a technocrat.
She was appointed by President Amadou Toumani Touré known as ATT), whose second term ends in 2012 and who is term-limited.
There has been an ongoing process of constitutional revision in Mali. In December 2008 (see previous post), the so-called Diawara report recommended a number of constitutional changes. Following a further period of reflection, it appears as if changes might be about to follow.
According to the Mali daily, L’Essor, Daba Diawara has now produced more detailed recommendations. In a speech marking the presentation of the proposals President Amadou Toumani Touré announced that he expected the government to submit a constitutional reform bill before parliament very soon. Assuming the bill was approved (and the president definitely made that assumption), President Touré said that a referendum would be held in autumn.
I do not have a copy of the new proposals or the bill, but the salient aspect for this blog is the report that the bill will modify the country’s semi-presidential system. Specifically, the newspaper report states: “Le président de la République aura également la possibilité de mettre fin aux fonctions du Premier ministre sans que celui-ci ne démissionne” [the president will be able to dismiss the PM unilaterally].
In other words, the reform, if the report is to be believed, will change Mali from a premier-presidential to a president-parliamentary form of semi-presidentialism.
Information is difficult to obtain, but local elections were held in Mali on 26 April.
Recall that President Amadou Toumani Touré was elected in April 2007. He is the representative of the Alliance for Democracy and Progress (ADP). The ADP also won a big majority at the July 2007 legislative elections. The ADP is made up of various parties. African Elections reports the ADP as a coalition of 12 parties, the most notable of which is the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA). President Amadou Toumani Touré is sometimes classed as independent/non-party. The government has a considerable number of independents as well as representatives from at least six parties.
In total about 17,000 councillors were to be elected. The results are not complete and it is doubtful that national totals will be posted. However, Info Matin has collated results from the eight regional capitals. In terms of the results more generally, ADEMA emerges as the plurality party, but rarely has a majority in any council.
Malikounda draws four lessons: the Democratic Movement coalition, comprising mainly the incumbent parties, has done well; the mainly opposition Citizens Movement coalition has done fairly poorly; in some places the new CODEM party did well; and the abstention rate was high with the voting rate between 19.6% and 35.6% in the various districts in the capital, Bamako.
In short, whereas the recent local elections in Senegal were taken as a rebuff to the government, the same in not true in Mali at least so far.
Again, the Constitution en Afrique blog has made available a really useful and otherwise difficult to find document. Following the publication of the synthesis of the Diawara report on the consolidation of democracy in Mali (see previous post), the President’s office has issued the full text of the report (all 255 pages). It is available in French here.
In addition to the items outlined in the previous post, from the perspective of this blog perhaps the most interesting item in the report is the deliberate use of the term ‘semi-presidential’ to describe the institutional arrangements in Mali.
On p. 8 the report explicitly calls for the maintenance of the country’s “semi-presidential regime”, and contrasts this type of regime with a presidential regime, on the one hand, and a parliamentary regime, on the other. Given the concept of semi-presidentialism is scarcely used by French and Francophone jurists and given that some countries with constitutions that this blog recognises as semi-presidential often denominate themselves differently (e.g. Bulgaria’s constitution calls itself parliamentary), the use of the term in French in an official report on Mali’s constitutional structure is at least noteworthy and perhaps suggests that the concept of semi-presidentialism is becoming more widely used and understood.
In February 2008, President Amadou Toumani Touré of Mali asked former minister Daba Diawara to conduct a process of reflexion on the consolidation of democracy in the country. Apparently, this resulted in a document that contained 233 proposed reforms. However, these proposals were not made public. Now, though, a synthesis of the report has been issued. Some of these points are relevant to Mali’s semi-presidential status. There are some nice reviews in French on Constitution en Afrique and on jeuneafrique.com.
In semi-presidential terms, the key elements of the synthesis are that the semi-presidential system should remain in place. (In passing, it is interesting to note that the report explicitly refers to Mali as a semi-presidential system). However, the constitutional operation of the system is perhaps set for a change. The report calls for a revision of the relations between the president and the government. The president should define the policy of the government and the government should merely implement the president’s policies. Currently, the constitution states that the government determines and conducts the policy of the nation (i.e., the same wording as the French constitution). Equally, the report suggests that the president should be free to appoint and dismiss the prime minister. This would transform Mali into a president-parliamentary form of semi-presidentialism. Currently, the constitution, again, has a French-style premier-presidential configuration.
So, if passed, these reforms would alter the nature of semi-presidentialism in Mali quite considerably.