July 20, 2024

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Mali court jails professor for criticizing government

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A court in Mali has sentenced economist Etienne Fakaba Sissoko to two years in prison, with one year suspended, for criticizing the military junta in his book.

Sissoko’s lawyer, Ibrahim Marhouf Sacko, announced the verdict and plans to appeal.

Sissoko, a professor at the University of Bamako, faced charges of harming the state’s reputation, defamation, and spreading misinformation for his 2023 book on government communication during Mali’s transition.

The book

According to reports, the book critically examines the military government’s use of what it terms propaganda, manipulation and even lies to influence public opinion, particularly during the promised “transition” period leading back to civilian rule.

The junta missed their initial deadline of March 2024 for a return to democracy, with no new date set.

Subsequently, at the May 6 hearing, Sissoko defended his work stating his use of factual evidence and expert analysis.

Throwback

This isn’t his first run-in with the authorities. In 2022, Sissoko, formerly an advisor to the ousted president, spent months in jail for criticizing the government’s stance on Christmas celebrations and questioning the validity of his academic credentials.

However, Sissoko’s lawyer suggests the real trigger for his recent imprisonment was his public commentary on the economic impact of sanctions imposed on Mali by neighbouring West African nations.

Background

Mali has been grappling with political and security instability since 2012, facing attacks from insurgents, armed groups, and a separatist movement in the north.

By Rédaction Africanews 

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