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With its new constitution, Mali has dropped French, which has been the country’s official language since 1960.
According to reports, under the new constitution passed overwhelmingly with 96.91% of the vote in a June 18 referendum, French is no longer the official language. Although French will be the working language, 13 other national languages spoken in the country will receive official language status.
Mali which has about 70 other local languages spoken in the country and some of them, including Bambara, Bobo, Dogon, and Minianka, were granted national language status under a 1982 decree.
Recall that, Mali’s junta leader Col. Assimi Goita put the country’s new constitution into effect, marking the beginning of the Fourth Republic in the West African nation.
According to the Presidency, Mali’s military since taking power in an August 2020 coup, has maintained that the constitution would be critical to rebuilding the country.
Mali witnessed two subsequent coups in recent years, one in August 2020 and the other in May 2021.
The junta had initially promised to hold elections in February 2022 but later delayed them to February 2024.
The decision by Mali to drop French comes at a time of growing anti-France sentiments across West Africa due to its perceived military and political interference.