//Mali extends hand to opposition coalition

Mali extends hand to opposition coalition

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Sunday extended his hand of friendship to opposition coalition of religious leaders, politicians and civil society that has challenged his power in a country also facing jihadist attacks.

“My door is open and my hand is always extended,” President Keita said in a speech on public television. “I look forward to meeting soon with the leaders of the opposition movement,” added the Malian leader, who has been in power since 2013. Referring to the new coalition that is challenging the government.

The coalition is made up of a movement headed by Imam Mahmoud Dicko of the Front for the Safeguard of Democracy (FSD), which brings together opposition parties, the main one which is the Front for the Safeguard of Democracy, and Espoir Mali Koura (EMK), a civil society movement led by filmmaker and former culture minister Cheick Oumar Sissoko.

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of people rallied in Mali’s capital Bamako demanding Keita’s departure, in a show of force from his recently energised opponents.

The protest followed several demonstrations last month in the West African state over the outcome of recent parliamentary elections, which the president won, as well as over coronavirus restrictions.

The anti-Keita coalition, the Rally of the Patriotic Forces of Mali (RFP), organised the mass rally in Bamako.

Among its leaders are Cheick Oumar Sissoko, a former culture minister, and Mahmoud Dicko, a prominent imam and politician.