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Mali’s largest union launches fresh strike

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A man holds a Mali’s national flag PHOTO: Associated Press

Mali’s largest trade union launched a fresh strike on Monday, an AFP journalist said, slowing or paralysing government offices and banks in the unstable West African country.

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The move follows a similar strike last week, and comes amid growing frustration with the post-coup government in Mali.

The National Union of Malian Workers (UNTM), which represents public servants and private-sector employees, called a second four-day strike after pay negotiations with Mali’s interim government collapsed over the weekend.

Hamadoun Bah, a union official, told AFP: “The government side only came with promises. And even these promises are backed up by other conditions”.

The strike comes as political tensions are on the rise in the war-torn nation of 19 million people.

The former French colony is ruled by a transitional government installed after military officers deposed president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August, after weeks of protests over his handling of Mali’s jihadist insurgency as well as perceived corruption.

Under the threat of international sanctions, the military later handed power to a caretaker government that pledged to reform the constitution and stage elections within 18 months.

But figures with army links dominate this body, and anger is growing over their prominent role and the slow pace of reforms.

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Coup leader Assimi Goita is currently serving as interim vice president and the interim president, Bah Ndaw, is a retired army officer.

This month, the M5 opposition movement — which led anti-Keita protests in 2020 — urged dissolving the transitional government in favour of a “more legitimate” body.

Responding to growing criticism, the presidency said that interim Prime Minister Moctar Ouane would form a more inclusive cabinet.

But M5 has already refused to participate in the new government.

The question of the military’s participation is particularly fraught.

UNTM officials said last week that a delegation from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States had urged workers to delay the strike until a new government is formed.

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