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Mali: Influencer Sentenced to Prison for Denouncing the Junta’s “Failure

An influential Malian woman was sentenced on Wednesday to a year’s imprisonment after speaking out against the ruling military and its “failure” to deal with insecurity and inflation, according to her lawyer.

She must also pay a fine of one million Francs cfa (1,500 euros). “We have appealed,” Rokia Doumbia’s lawyer, Kassoum Tapo, told AFP by telephone.

Under the colonial regime that has been in power in Mali since 2020, it is difficult for dissenting voices to make themselves heard without the risk of being worried. This Sahelian country is confronted with multifaceted violence, including jihadist attacks.

Rokia Doumbia, known in Mali for her commitment to fighting the high cost of living and with a strong following on social networks, was charged with “insulting the Head of State”, “inciting revolt” and “disturbing public order through the use of information and communication technologies”.

“In March, she launched a “live” message on TikTok addressed to the head of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, before being imprisoned.

“This transition is a failure with 0% (of results). I wouldn’t even give 1%, but 0%”, she had declared, referring to the period of military government that was supposed to precede the return, announced for 2024, of civilians at the head of the country.

“No Malian lives in peace”, she added, even though the authorities regularly claim to have regained the initiative against the jihadists. “Insecurity is gaining ground everywhere”, she said.

A person close to Rokia Doumbia, who spoke on condition of anonymity like many of her interlocutors, said that she had been reported to the authorities by the Collectif pour la défense des militaires (CDM). Appeals from this organization, one of the junta’s most offensive supporters, are often followed up.