U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Mali
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Mali, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa78c.html [accessed 10 July 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
MALIMali is a constitutional democracy. President Alpha Oumar Konare was reelected to a second 5-year term in May. The Government held first-round legislative elections in April, but the Constitutional Court canceled the results due to poor organization of the polling process. The Government subsequently held legislative elections in July and August. A collective of 18 opposition parties boycotted both the presidential and legislative elections, which were administratively flawed but considered generally free and without evident fraud. Numerous opposition parties, however, did participate. The ruling party, the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA), dominates the newly elected National Assembly, which includes representatives of opposition and ADEMA-aligned parties. The President reappointed Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as head of government. The Government named a new cabinet in September that includes opposition and ADEMA-aligned members. The 1995 peace agreement between the Government and Tuareg and Maur rebel groups remained in force. The Government continues to exert influence on the judiciary. Security forces are composed of the army, air force, Gendarmerie, the National Guard, and the police. The army and air force are under the control of the civilian Minister of the Armed Forces and Veterans, as are the Gendarmerie and the National Guard. The police are under the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security. The police and gendarmes share responsibility for internal security. Mali is a very poor country with a market-based economy. Most of the work force is employed in the agricultural sector, particularly farming and animal husbandry, making the country highly dependent upon adequate rainfall for its economic well-being. The principal exports are cotton, livestock, and gold, which are the country's leading sources of foreign exchange. There is a very small industrial sector, largely based on the manufacture of textiles, beverages, and processed food products. The Gross National Product is approximately $270 per capita, which provides most of the population with a low standard of living. The Government continues to make progress in implementing reforms aimed at modernizing the economy. Nevertheless, the country is still beset by economic problems, including a poor infrastructure and heavy dependence upon foreign assistance. Social limitations, including a current estimated literacy rate of roughly 20 percent and a high population growth rate, also contribute to poverty. The Government generally respected constitutional provisions for freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion. However, prison conditions are poor, and the judicial system's large case backlog results in long periods of pretrial detention. The executive branch retains influence over the judiciary. However, during the year, the Constitutional Court demonstrated independence by rejecting several items submitted by the National Assembly pertaining to electoral and administrative matters. Election related violence resulted in the deaths of four persons. Social and cultural factors continued to sharply limit economic and educational opportunities for most women. In September the Government upgraded the former Commission for the Promotion of Women to become the Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children, and the Family. However, societal violence against women and children, including spousal abuse and female genital mutilation (FGM), is widespread.