On 25 June, two Malian unions – the National Union of Civil Administrators (Syndicat national des administrateurs civils, or SYNAC) and the Free Union of Workers in the Ministry of Territorial Administration (Syndicat libre des travailleurs du ministère de l’Administration territoriale, or SYLTMAT)* – declared a week-long strike (French).
On 2 July, the unions announced that the strike will continue indefinitely (French). Their demands center on their living and working conditions, and they charge the government with failing to respect past agreements. The strikers are concerned in large part with their own physical security, and in an 18 June letter to the government they decried threats, kidnappings, and attacks on local administrators (prefects, sub-prefects, etc.) going back to at least 2014 and the time around then-Prime Minister Moussa Mara’s ill-fated visit to Kidal. They accuse the state of failing to protect them – the 8 May 2018 kidnapping of a prefect and his driver in Tenenkou (central Mali, in the heart of the conflict zone there) is one major concern for the strikers. Revealingly, they also complain that the state is turning more and more to traditional authorities and groups like youth and hunters’ associations, rather than to its own formal chain of command.
As noted last week, the strike is a major problem for the upcoming 29 July elections, because it inhibits the distribution of voters’ cards, which was already lagging before that. A combination of insecurity and logistical snags could really cut into turnout, which in turn could reduce the election’s legitimacy.
Another union/civil society group, the Association of Former Activists and Supporters of the National Union of Malian Students (L’Amicale des anciens militants et sympathisants de l’Union nationale des élèves et étudiants du Mali), has attempted to mediate (French) between the strikers and the prime minister’s office, but so far without success.
*The unions’ names, as reported in the media, vary a bit from source to source. I went with the names listed in the second link below.
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