Mali holds referendum as step to post-coup elections

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Mali is holding a referendum on a new constitution that would begin the process of returning the country to democratic civilian rule.

The military junta which seized power in 2020 led a second coup nine months later, unhappy with the civilians leading a caretaker government it had installed.

Coup leader Col Assimi Goïta then took over as president – and has since agreed to hand over to an elected government early next year.

The revised constitution includes a new second house to increase representation across Mali, which has been hit by jihadist violence and other insecurity for more than a decade.

Critics have complained that the military had no right to oversee the rewriting of the constitution which, if passed, will leave the president with too much power.

Around 8.4 million people are eligible to vote and the results are expected within 72 hours.