Malians approved changes in the constitution in Sunday’s referendum with 97% of the vote, the West African country’s electoral authority said on Friday.
Regional powers and Mali’s ruling military junta — which mostly organized and backed the referendum — said it will pave the way to elections in February 2024 and a return to civilian rule.
Turnout rate was at 39.4% of the country’s 8.4 million registered voters, Moustapha Cisse, head of the electoral commission said, announcing the results in Bamako.
Some of the proposed clauses in the new constitution drafted by the transitional council are contentious, with proponents saying they would strengthen fragile political institutions and opponents saying they would give too much power to the president.
But regional bodies and the United Nations see the referendum itself as an important test of the junta’s willingness to stick to the transition and hold a nationwide democratic process, particularly at a time when Islamist militants are stepping up attacks.
Voters in several villages were forced to flee after gunmen burst into voting centres, bringing operations to a halt and destroying materials, observers said.