Mahmoud Dicko, the influential Muslim leader seen as the driving force behind Mali’s protest movement, has said the country’s political crisis could be resolved without the president stepping down, offering a more moderate solution than other opposition leaders.
In recent weeks, Dicko’s speeches denouncing Keita’s governance have electrified protesters, and allies and detractors alike see him as the galvanising force behind the demonstrations. Yet some of the president’s allies think he is open to compromise and believe the protests would collapse without him.
For weeks, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has been locked in a tense standoff with a disparate opposition alliance that has staged mass demonstrations calling for his resignation amid growing anger over perceived corruption, alleged electoral malpractice and a worsening security situation.
The crisis has raised concerns around further instability in a country at the heart of the fight against armed groups in West Africa’s Sahel region, prompting mediation efforts by regional leaders that have so far been unsuccessful.
On Wednesday, opposition leaders under the umbrella of the M5-RFP or June 5 Movement, reiterated calls for Keita’s resignation, again rejecting a compromise floated by the West African regional group ECOWAS.
But in an interview with Reuters news agency on Wednesday, Dicko, who has led the protests even though he is not a coalition member, took a softer line.
“I think we can find a solution without going as far as the resignation of the president. Aside from his resignation, there are lots of things that can be done,” he said.
Asked if he would be satisfied by the replacement of Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, who has been heavily criticised for his handling of the protests, Dicko said that change by itself would not resolve the crisis but could be part of a compromise.