Mali has abolished French as its official language after a new constitution was approved with 96.91% of the vote in a referendum on June 18.
Although French, the country’s official language since 1960, will continue to be the working language, 13 other national languages spoken in the country will be granted official status.
Mali has over 70 different local languages spoken in the country, with some of them, such as Bambara, Bobo, Dogon, and Minianka, being accorded national language status in a 1982 decree.
Mali’s decision to abandon French comes at a time when anti-France sentiment is rising across West Africa as a result of perceived military and political meddling.
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 has maintained that the constitution is crucial to rebuilding the country since taking power in an August 2020 coup.
Mali has experienced two additional coups in recent years, the first in August 2020 and the second in May 2021.The junta initially pledged elections in February 2022, but eventually pushed them back to February 2024.