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ECOWAS Court to resume hearing of suit by 115 former Malian parliamentarians in October

Ecowas Court
Ecowas Court

Hearing will continue on 10th October 2023 at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in a case filed by 115 former members of Mali’s national assembly, who are challenging the dissolution of the assembly by a former President of the country as a violation of their human rights and asking for compensation from the government.

In the suit, the former Parliamentarians claimed that in dissolving the assembly while they were still in service, former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was toppled in a military coup on 18th August 2020, acted ultra vires as he did not have the constitutional power to dissolve the assembly.

In the suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/45/20, the Applicants, Abdoulaye Fofana and 114 others contended that a deposed President does not and cannot possess any constitutional right to dissolve another important institution such as the National Assembly, arguing that by supporting the establishment of a constitutional disorder, the Respondent State violated the rights of the Parliamentarians to exercise their mandate of representation.

At today’s hearing, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, presiding, announced the adjournment on the ground that the documents of proceedings are not yet translated.

Both parties were not represented during Tuesday’s hearing.

The Applicants, who were elected Parliamentarians for the 6th Legislature of 2020-2025, described the dissolution of the National Assembly as unconstitutional, undemocratic, and unconventional pointing out that the action of the former President was coerced and not voluntary.

The Applicants, represented by their Counsel, Maître Maliki Djibrilla and Maître Mamoutou Sangare cited Articles 3, 4 (g) and (j) of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS; Articles 9, 13 and 25 of the African Charter on Human and People Rights as the provisions violated by the Government of Mali and that their rights as Law makers are guaranteed by international instruments for the protection of human rights.

Moreover, the Applicants accused the Respondent State of breaching Articles 2 (2) and 10, Article 5, Articles 4 ( 1) and 2 of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance ; Article 25 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ; Article 1 of the Protocol of 21 December 2001 on Democracy and Good

Governance, Supplementary to the Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Prevention, Management, Conflict Resolution, Maintenance of Peace and Security of 10 December 1999.

Among the reliefs sought include an order of the Court for the Respondent State to pay them a provisional sum of twenty-three billion thirty-two million two hundred thousand (23,032,200,000) CFA francs as the income of the Parliamentarians. They also urged the Court to order the state to pay them another ten billion (10,000,000,000) CFA francs as compensation for psychological damages.

In addition, the Applicants urged the Court to take binding measures against the Republic of Mali aimed at restoring constitutional order and to ensure the repeal of decree of 18 August 2020 dissolving the National Assembly of Mali.

Finally, they urged the Court to order their reinstatement as elected officials of the nation.

In the Initiating Application filed on 3 November 2020, the Applicants stated that following the proclamation of the results of the first and second rounds of the legislative election, Parliamentarians were appointed members of the legislative body. They affirmed that a few months after the appointment of the members of the National Assembly, precisely on 18 August 2020, soldiers angry with the former President deposed him along with the then Prime Minister, Mr. Boubo CISSE.

They claimed that on the same day, the coup plotters, not only convinced the former President to resign but also to dissolve the National Assembly and the Government, noting that they coerced him to make statements on Office de la Radio et Télévision Malienne (ORTM) to announce his resignation and the dissolution of the National Assembly.

The Applicants denounced this state of affairs through a memorandum dated 1 September 2020 in which they alleged that the “The dissolution thus effected of the National Assembly was neither done freely, nor by choice, nor upon personal volition, since it was devoid of any form of consent thereof on the part of the President of the Republic”.

They held that since it attained independence, Mali has been committed to the protection, promotion and respect of human rights throughout its national territory, pointing out that the former President exceeded his constitutional powers, by ordering the dissolution of the National Assembly, arguing that the decree issued for the dissolution of the National Assembly was imposed on him, contrary to the principles of democracy.

In its response filed in the Registry of the Court on 6 March 2023, the Republic of Mali, the Respondent denied the facts as presented by the Applicants, describing them as inconstant and inaccurate.”

It held that the decision of 18 August 2020 dissolving the National Assembly by the then President Ibrahim Kéita “Respects all the legal provisions required in the matter, in particular article 42 of the Constitution.

Consequently, the Respondent State, represented by Maître Modibo T. Doumbia acting on behalf of the Société Civile Professionnelle SCP Toureh Et Associés, a Civil Society of Lawyers, constituted by the Respondent requested the Court to decline jurisdiction in the matter and declare the application inadmissible. It also urged the Court to dismiss the claim as ill-founded.

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