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Mali's government has adopted a timetable for staging elections, in a move just days ahead of a regional summit to mull the future of sanctions against the junta-dominated country.
Official documents seen by AFP Thursday said presidential elections would be held in February 2024, preceded by a referendum on a revised constitution in March 2023.
Local elections will be held in June 2023 followed by a legislative ballot between October and November the same year, the documents said.
The decision was made at a government meeting on Wednesday night after the draft was given to political parties and civil society groups.
"Our authorities are setting down further signals for a return to constitutional order," government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, who is also minister of territorial administration, said on state TV.
"The government believes that this timetable is realistic."
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The timetable is a key issue in the confrontation between Mali and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Colonels disgruntled at the government's failure to roll back a bloody jihadist uprising ousted Mali's elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in August 2020.
Mali's neighbours in West Africa, a region deeply prone to coups, have clamoured for an early restoration of civilian rule.
On January 9, ECOWAS imposed tough trade and financial sanctions for perceived foot-dragging on meeting this demand.
Its leaders will meet Sunday in Ghana's capital Accra to decide on the future of these measures.
In early June, the junta issued a decree saying that it would rule until March 2024.
The move was announced unilaterally, even as negotiations with the 15-nation bloc were continuing.
An ECOWAS mediator, former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, has made a string of trips to Bamako to try to secure a compromise.
His last stay was on June 23 and June 24.
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