Mali drops French as its official language

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With its new constitution, Mali has dropped French, which has been the West African country’s official language since 1960.

Under the new constitution passed overwhelmingly with 96.91% of the vote in a June 18 referendum, French is no longer the official language.

French will be the working language from now on, and the 13 national languages spoken in the country will also receive official language status.

Around 70 local languages are spoken in the country and some of them, including Bambara, Bobo, Dogon and Minianka, were granted national language status under a 1982 decree.

On Tuesday, 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, the presidency said.

Since taking power in an August 2020 coup, Mali’s military has maintained that the constitution would be critical to rebuilding the country.

Mali witnessed two subsequent coups in recent years, one in August 2020 and the other in May 2021.

The junta had initially promised to hold elections in February 2022 but later delayed them to February 2024.