Mali's military government has announced a delay in presidential elections scheduled for February that would return the country to civilian rule.
The two rounds of the election, which were initially set for 4 and 18 February 2024, "will be slightly delayed for technical reasons", spokesperson for the junta, Abdoulaye Maiga, said in a statement read out to reporters in the capital, Bamako, on Monday.
The new dates for the election "will be communicated later", he said, explaining that the delay is linked to the adoption the new constitution, which was voted in June, and a review of electoral lists.
He also cited a dispute with Idemia, a French company that has provided Mali with biometric passports and that the junta says is involved in creating a civil registry database.
At the end of June, voters approved changes to the constitution, which opponents said were intended to keep the military in power beyond the presidential election.
But the government said the vote - which itself was also postponed by several months - would pave the way to presidential elections and a return to civilian rule after a coup overthrow President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in a coup in August 2020.
In July the Economic Community of Western African States (Ecowas) lifted trade and financial sanctions it had imposed on Mali in January 2022, after the country's military rulers agreed to the February elections.
Previously the military government had said it was considering staying in power for up to five years.