The Party System and Conditions of Candidacy
In Mali, the creation, the functioning, and the funding of political parties are determined by the Political Parties Charter. The Charter is a moral and legal framework for parties. There have been two Political Parties Charters in Mali, the 91-075/PCTSP of October 10, 1991 and the Law 05-047 of August 18, 2005, constituting the Political Parties Charter. According to the preamble of the current Charter, political parties fulfill a public service by democratically and peacefully contributing to the realization of people’s political will, and to the civic education of citizens and leaders who are destined to assume public responsibilities.
Political parties are created by an assembly of their founding members during which the party’s by-laws and mission statement are adopted. A political party attains legal status after receiving written notification from the relevant authorities which states that all documents required by the Political Parties Charter have been filed. These documents are delivered to the Ministry of Territorial Affairs.
To be a leader of a political party one must: possess Malian nationality, be at least 21 years old, retain the capacity to exercise one’s full civic and political rights, have never been convicted and sentenced to corporal and dishonorable punishment, maintain a residence located within the Malian territory and present proof of having paid their taxes. Any citizen who has not lost the exercise of his/her civic and political rights may be a member of any political party of his/her choice. However, some citizens because of their status or the specific position they occupy, may not be members of a political party. These are: members of the Supreme Court, members of the Constitutional Court, auditors appointed by decree approved during cabinet meetings, judges, members of the armed forces and law enforcement officers, civil servants representing the State in regions, cercles, the District of Bamako, or municipalities, the Ombudsman, The Inspector General, The Deputy Inspector General, the inspectors, the Ambassadors, and Consul Generals. However, with the exception of the members of the Constitutional Court and of the Supreme Court, the people occupying the above-mentioned positions may, if they so decide, resign from office in order to join a political party of their choice.
Article 45 of the Political Parties Charter states that political parties may not undermine public security, public order, or the collective and individual rights of citizens. They are strictly prohibited from establishing organizations of a military or paramilitary character. No political party may be established on ethnic, religious, linguistic, regional, gender, or professional bases. Any party founded on or for the pursuit of an illicit goal violating the law, good moral character, or for the purpose of undermining the integrity of the national territory, or the republican nature of the state, shall be declared null and void.
All political parties or coalitions of political parties with a legal standing may present a candidate or a list of candidates in elections. Independent candidacies have also been authorized since the 1997 general election. For example, former president, Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), was elected in 2002 as an independent candidate with the backing of some major political parties. These parties became the presidential majority at the National Assembly and backed the government’s policies. Therefore, a system of management by consensus of public affairs was established in Mali and the opposition disappeared for almost ten years during ATT’s tenure, which lasted from 2002 to 2012. This situation resulted from the lack of a defined legal status for the opposition. The Malian opposition parties became weak during the presidency of Alpha Omar Konare from 1992 to 1997. One of the consequences of this weakness was that these parties disappeared almost entirely from the political scene. The lack of opposition parties led to a consensus model of managing public affairs. While this consensus style of governance seemed to work at first, its limitations were quickly evident. Indeed, many believe that the consensus model employed during ATT’s presidency is what led Mali to experience the security and institutional crises that started in 2012 and that ultimately resulted in the subsequent political transition. Additionally, several political parties experienced partitions or dissidence, which weakened them and contributed to the creation of a large number of small political parties.
Thus, during its regular session on 13 August 2014, the Council of Ministers adopted a draft law determining “the status of the political opposition” in order to address shortcomings in the implementation of the Law No. 00-047 of 13 July 2000 that granted the political opposition a legal status. The new law institutionalizes the status of the Leader of the Opposition (designated based on the number of deputies obtained) who becomes ipso facto the spokesman for the opposition. The new law allows the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister to consult the Leader of the Opposition on matters of national interest and foreign policy, and sets the rules for official representation of the Leader of the Opposition. Furthermore, the new law grants the Leader of the Opposition the same advantages as the first Vice President of the National Assembly. If some positively appreciate the measure to grant a new status to the opposition, others observers believe this can be a trap for the opposition. As we will see in the topic “Recent debates and developments,” some believe that the law determining “the status of the political opposition” symbolizes a democratic progress, whereas others see it as a subtle power-sharing strategy by the regime of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK) to silence the opposition.
The conditions for running as a candidate depend on the nature of the election. For example, the deposit for presidential elections is 10,000,000 CFA (about 20,000 US dollars). Fifty per cent of the deposit is reimbursed to candidates who obtain at least 5% of the votes cast during the first round of the election. For the other elections there is no reimbursement, and the amount of contribution to electoral expenses is set by a decree approved by the cabinet.
Current situation of political parties
According to the website of the Ministry of Territorial affairs (www.matcl.gov.ml) on September 19, 2012 there were 138 legally established political parties in Mali. This number is constantly changing but the number of parties that are active on the political scene is approximately 20. We are presenting here the representation of some political parties at the National Assembly based on the 2007 legislative elections, and their representation in municipal councils based on the 2009 municipal elections (source: Ministry of Territorial affairs).
- The Alliance for Democracy in Mali – African Party for Solidarity and Justice (ADEMA-PASJ), 51 National Assembly members and 3464 municipal counselors.
- Union for the Republic and for Democracy (URD), 34 National Assembly members and 2173 municipal counselors.
- Rally for Mali (RPM), 11 National Assembly members and 929 municipal counselors.
- Patriotic Movement for Renewal (MPR), 8 National Assembly members and 396 municipal counselors.
- National Congress for Democratic Initiative (CNID), 7 National Assembly members and 529 municipal counselors.
- Party for National Renaissance (PARENA), 4 National Assembly members and 471 municipal counselors.
- African Solidarity for Democracy and Independence (SADI), 4 National Assembly members and 254 municipal counselors.
- Convergence for the Development of Mali (CODEM), 5 National Assembly members and 444 municipal counselors.
- Union for Democracy and Development (UDD), 3 National Assembly members and 181 municipal counselors.
- Movement for Independence, Renaissance and African Integration (BARICA), 2 National Assembly members and 31 municipal counselors.
- Independent representatives, 15 National Assembly members and 817 municipal counselors.
Because representatives change party affiliations, these numbers may change. For example, CODEM was created in 2008 by 5 independent members of the National Assembly, and it managed to obtain 444 municipal counselors in the 2009 elections. In the National Assembly, there are political coalitions that form the ruling majority and an opposition which failed to include more than 3 parties during the 2007-2012 legislature. As the terms of the members of the National Assembly were nearing their end on August 9, 2012, the Government introduced a draft law to extend the term of the fourth legislature. This draft law was passed by the Assembly with an overwhelming majority, thus extending the terms of the members until the end of the political transition, and specifically until the new National Assembly was put in place. National Assembly Elections were then held on November 24, 2013 with second round elections on December 15, 2013. It should be noted that a number of associations and political parties, especially COPAM, opposed the extension of the terms of the members of the National Assembly and instead proposed a national dialogue that would have put in place a transitional institution.
Useful links and documentary resources
- The Political Parties Charters of Mali
- L’ordonnance n°91-075/PCTSP du 10 octobre 1991 : http://www.un.int/wcm/webdav/site/mali/shared/documents/fr/codestextes/1164088846.pdf
- Loi n° 05-047/ du 18 aout 2005 portant charte des partis politiques: http://www.matcl.gov.ml/PDF/ChartePartis.pdf
- Links to the websites of the most representative political parties: