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Sissoko: Mali junta fines, jails Professor over criticism



Professor Étienne Fakaba Sissoko

The military junta in Mali has fined and jailed Professor Étienne Fakaba Sissoko, a prominent economist, for criticising the government.

Professor Sissoko was ordered to pay a fine of three million CFA francs, approximately US$4,900 or £3,900. 

He was also sentenced to two years in jail, one of which was suspended, for criticising the military junta. 

His charges include defamation and damaging the reputation of the state by distributing fake news. 

The travails of Sissoko

It was learnt that Professor Sissoko has been in custody since March, following a book he published in 2023.

The book is entitled “Propaganda, Agitation, and Harassment – Government Communication During the Transition in Mali”.

Therein, the academician accused the junta of deploying manipulation and lies to gain public favour.

According to a BBC report, however, he has defended the book in court, saying it was based on factual events.

AFP news quoted Sissoko’s lawyer, Ibrahim Sacko, as saying he was not surprised and will appeal the judgement. 

Before his arrest, Sissoko also published a post on Facebook calling for elections to be held in the country. 

About Étienne Fakaba Sissoko

Étienne Fakaba Sissoko is a prominent Malian economist and professor who has been in the spotlight due to his criticism of the military junta in Mali.

Background and Career

Sissoko is a professor of macroeconomics at Faculty of Economics and Management at the University of Bamako.

He has held various advisory roles, including serving as an adviser to the late President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

He has also been an analyst in economic matters, contributing to policy discussions and research in Mali.

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Recent Legal Troubles

Sissoko faced legal repercussions for his outspoken views on the military junta.

He was charged with defamation and damaging the state’s reputation by distributing fake news over the book he published last year.

In the book, he accused the junta of using manipulation and lies to sway public opinion to its favor.

Sissoko was sentenced to two years in jail, with one year suspended, and ordered to pay a fine of 3 million CFA francs for his critical stance.

Other activists and social media influencers have also reportedly been jailed in Mali during this period.

Despite the challenges he faces, Sissoko continues to advocate for democratic processes and transparency in Mali.

He highlights the importance of free expression and human rights in his country.

Sissoko’s case is part of a wider crackdown on critics and political opponents of the military rulers in Mali.

Several critics have recently been jailed, including popular social media influencer, Rokia Doumbia, and prominent activist Adama Ben Diarra. 

The junta

The junta has faced criticism for not adhering to agreed timelines for transitioning to democratic civilian rule.

Elections due to be held in February this year were once again postponed, drawing criticism from Sissoko et al.

It has also been criticised for the manner it handles the economy, as well as security challenges.

They came to power in August 2020 after ousting President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in a coup.

Keïta was overthrown in a coup after heavy anti-government protests over his handling of jihadist unrest.

Critics also say the military-led government has failed to adequately tackle the worsening jihadist insurgency.

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Some also criticised the deployment of Wagner group mercenaries and the expulsion of UN peacekeepers. 

Earlier this month, participants in what has been termed a “national dialogue” suggested the extension of the transition period by another three years. 

In April, the junta also suspended political activities and imposed a media blackout on political coverage. 

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