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Mali opposition figure summoned after junta criticism

Malian authorities have summoned opposition politician Oumar Mariko, a family member and security official said Monday, after he criticised the ruling junta and suggested that the army “was murdering people”. Mariko’s left-leaning SADI party also stated on Sunday that heavily armed men had broken into the politician’s home and demanded that relatives reveal his location. The move comes after Mariko suggested the army “was murdering people” during a public meeting, and called on the ruling junta to take responsibility for the situation in the conflict-torn Sahel nation. According to a video seen by AFP, Mariko listed several recent mass killings in Mali and called them “unacceptable” — including murky events that occurred last week in Moura in the centre of the country. Mali’s army said on Friday that it killed 203 militants in Moura. However, that announcement followed widely shared social media reports of a civilian massacre in the area. The United States, European Union, United Nations and Mali’s former colonial power France have all raised concerns about the possible killing of civilians in Moura. “What pretence is there to support this?” Mariko said in the video, referring to killings. “When a people is not master of its destiny, a revolution is needed,” he added. A family member of the politician’s and a security official both told AFP on Monday that he has received a summons to appear before the country’s gendarmerie on Tuesday morning. SADI, in its statement, said that the armed men who had come to his home on Sunday had waited there “to kidnap him”. It also denounced the “intimidation and threats of the government” and called on “national and international opinion to bear witness to the autocratic excesses of the transitional regime”. An impoverished nation of 21 million people, Mali is governed by a junta that seized power in a military coup in August 2020. The junta promised to restore civilian rule after the putsch, but it is under sanctions from the West Africa bloc ECOWAS for ignoring an earlier commitment to stage elections in February this year. Swathes of Mali lie outside of government control, due to a brutal jihadist conflict that first emerged in 2012, and has since spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

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