Combating Corruption in Mali Difficult as Government Raises Uncertainty

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Written by Soumaila Diarra

As judicial services investigate alleged briberies in public services, high level officials and businessmen accused of taking interest in corruption cases are forbidden to travel out of Mali. The new Malian authorities’ drive against corruption in Mali comes up two months after release of two audit reports outlining the impact of bribery in the West African country.

However, magistrates in charge of investigation complain about government’s pressure on them, making civil society uncertain about authorities’ will to combat corruption in Mali.

Bribery and Who’s Fighting it

“I don’t know how it will be possible to combat corruption when there is a misunderstanding between those who should work together for that. Now the magistrates who would like to be free when doing their job are angry”, Moussa Doumbia, an anti-corruption activist told AFKInsider.

Mohamed Sidda Dicko, a prosecutor charged with looking into a recent chief auditor’s report that states Mali lost $104.2 million to corruption in 2012, was reported to step down on early January, according to the minister of Justice who told to journalists on January 9.

But Dicko’s resignation had been denied by the general prosecutor, Daniel Tessougué, who also complained about the new government’s pressure on Malian magistrates. The minister of Justice had said several weeks earlier in a public forum that as “first prosecutor of the Republic” he had the right to give directions to prosecutors over how they should conduct investigations.

Magistrates Backing Out

Dicko couldn’t be reached, but a letter he sent to the minister of justice describes how tension is rising between the magistrates and the government.

“I regret to notice that my legal duties are cleared out of their contents. An investigation started by a public prosecutor, on the request of the minister of justice, is operated by the minister’s cabinet and that in violation of all the legal rules. The prosecutor finds he is assisted, without knowing it, by people non-authorized legally,” the letter reports.

The anti-corruption prosecutor is following up on a chief auditor’s report which revealed what it called a pattern of corruption over public contracts involving some ministers, government officials in public services, finance and material supply directors, as well as private sector officials.

In releasing the report on Nov. 27, General Auditor Amadou Toure had said:

“A real financial mafia in a jungle exists, invisible and unpredictable to the citizens.”

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, elected in September after the 2012 military coup, has promised zero tolerance for corruption and to hold bribe-makers to account.  Forty-nine cases of alleged corruption have been referred to the judicial authorities for action.

The general auditor’s findings were reinforced by a second report delivered to the president by Habi Tall, head of the government’s audit service CASCA, who reviewed government accounts for the 2011 and 2012 period.  The report found dubious transactions and false invoicing in public procurement practices.

New Government, No New Outlook For Corruption in Mali

Mali was required to do a better job of keeping track of its cash as conditions for a series of loans provided by the International Monetary Fund to handle its balance of payments and bolster economic growth.  The IMF had asked the new government to audit public expenditures and revise its public procurement procedures after suspected corruption problems in the transitional government, which followed the March 2012 coup and French-led invasion to halt advances by Islamist rebels.