What’s behind Mali's ban on NGOs?

APA - Bamako (Mali)

Bamako is reportedly seeking to tighten control over all international funding to the country, according to Julien Antouly, a doctoral student in International Law at France's Centre de droit international de Nanterre.

On November 21, Bamako suspended the activities of all non-governmental organizations that receive support from Paris. 

This decision, which to date affects “294 associations and NGOs,” followed the suspension of French development aid to the West African country. 

In the same vein the Malian authorities last week banned the Swiss NGO, Geneva Call, from operating in the country because of what they called the group's illegal activities.

Although these multiple bans are part of the narrative showing the tension between Mali's transitional authorities and several Western countries, Julien Antouly, sees them as a determination by Bamako to exert more control over the financial resources of NGOs.

"Beyond the ban on French funding, the government actually wants to strengthen control over all international funding. In recent weeks, it has asked several European countries to provide lists of NGOs funded in Mali," Antouly writes on Twitter.

He recalls that on December 15, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MATD) also announced new rules for foreign associations, which must have all their sources of funding validated, including monies they give to national associations.

He says similarly, a commission for “coordination, evaluation, monitoring and control of associations and NGOs” has been created to strengthen this control. 

New reporting obligations (monthly activity and financial reports) are also required of non-governmental organizations.

Julien Antouly notes that the announced ban on Geneva Call shows that all foreign associations are concerned, and that the government will not hesitate to expel some of them if they refuse to comply.

“In short, the ban on French funding is not only a direct reaction to the suspension of official development assistance by France, it is part of a broader and deeper trend of strengthening control over NGOs and foreign funding,” he observes.

On November 29, 2022, the Malian Ministry of Religious Affairs, Worship and Customs had asked officials of the Grand Mosque in Bamako to clarify the source of funds intended for the construction of a building valued at more than two hundred million CFA francs.

The edifice was to be constructed within the premises of the mosque.


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