By Prudence Arobani
The U.S. has condemned the Government of Mali for its refusal to allow political march requested by the opposition for Saturday, saying it was an affront on democracy.
The Department of State, in a statement by Ms Heather Nauert, also condemned the subsequent use of violence and tear gas by security forces to break up the peaceful protest by political opposition leaders in Bamako.
“Attacking unarmed marchers engaged in peaceful dialogue is an affront to core democratic values.
“The United States urges the government of Mali to allow for peaceful assembly by all citizens, groups and encourages the government to support public dialogue, freedom of association and freedom of expression at all times and particularly now, in advance of the July elections.
“The Malian people, like people everywhere, deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas, transparent and accountable governance and equal treatment under the law and ability to exercise their rights without fear of retribution,’’ the U.S. said.
According to news reports, police used tear gas to break up opposition supporters, who had planned to march through the capital calling for more transparency ahead of presidential elections due to take place next month.
Mali declared a state of emergency in 2015 after a terrorist attack in the capital, Bamako.
Fighting between rival armed groups, government forces and extremists that carried out a failed coup in 2012, have destabilised much of the north and east of the country.