More than 60 years after Bamako’s independence, Mali has decided to abandon French as its official language.
The choice is made under the newly established constitution of the West African nation, according to RT.
The final results of a referendum held in June on a draft constitution were upheld by Bamako’s constitutional court on Friday, according to which it garnered 96.91% of the vote.
The 13 national languages that are spoken throughout the nation will be formally recognized as official languages, with French serving as the main working language.
There will still be 70 additional local languages, some of which received national language status by decree in 1982. These include Bambara, Bobo, Dogon, and Minianka.
Since two coups in August 2020 and May 2021, which came after a decade of political unrest characterized by jihadist insurgencies, Mali has been governed by a military junta.
After an earlier plan fell through, the junta argued that a new constitution was necessary for rebuilding the nation and promised to restore civilian control with elections in February 2024.
Assimi Goita, the interim president, declared on Saturday that the former French colony’s Fourth Republic had officially begun with the adoption of the new constitutional framework.
As anti-French sentiment has risen throughout France’s former colonies in West Africa as a result of allegations of military failures against terrorists and political involvement, relations between Paris and Bamako have been worse recently.
August saw the final French troops leave Mali, capping a nine-year military campaign against armed groups there.
The military government ordered all NGOs, including those receiving French government funding, to stop their operations in the nation late last year.
The response came after Paris decided to stop providing development funding to Bamako due to purported reservations over Mali’s involvement with the Wagner Russian private defense company.