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Malian Professor Jailed For Criticising the Military Junta

Sissoko, a professor at the University of Bamako was jailed for his book about the junta's handling of communication during Mali's transition

A popular Malian professor and economist has been sentenced to two years to prison for writing a book that was critical of the military junta.

41-year-old Étienne Fakaba Sissoko was also ordered to pay a fine of 3m CFA francs ($4,900), even though his lawyer says they will consider an appeal.

A professor at the University of Bamako, and former advisor to deceased ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Sissoko had spent several months in jail in 2022 for criticizing the government’s stance on Christmas celebrations and his academic credentials.

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His jailing now stems from a book he published last year about the military government’s handling of communication during Mali’s transition, after the coup in 2020.

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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.

At a court hearing, Sissoko defended his work stating his use of factual evidence and expert analysis. His lawyer, Ibrahim Marhouf Sacko said he was not surprised by the court verdict, saying that 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.

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The military junta has come under criticism for failing to adhere to agreed timelines for transitioning to democratic civilian rule after repeatedly postponing elections.

Last month, it banned the media from reporting on the activities of political parties and associations, after previously suspending all political activities in the country.

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