Influencer jailed in Mali for criticizing junta

A Malian influencer was sentenced to one year in jail on Wednesday for criticizing the ruling junta, as the military in the troubled Sahel state tightens its grip on dissent, according to her lawyer.

Rokia Doumbia, who is widely followed in Mali for her online activism against high living costs, has been ordered to serve a one-year jail term and pay a fine of one million CFA francs ($1,670), her lawyer Kassoum Tapo informed media, adding that they have already filed an appeal against the ruling.

She faced charges of insulting the head of state, inciting revolt, and disturbing public order through the use of information and communication technologies.

The charges were brought against her after she criticized the junta’s economic and security record.

Colonel Assimi Goita’s junta, which has been in power since a 2020 coup, has pledged to restore civilian rule in Mali by 2024 and claims to be making advancements in the ongoing decade-long fight against militant insurgents.

During a live TikTok broadcast in March, Doumbia stated, “Under your governance, things aren’t going well. This transition is a failure with zero percent,” directly addressing Goita, the head of the junta.

She further added, “No Malian lives in peace. Insecurity is gaining ground everywhere.”

According to a source close to Doumbia, who spoke on condition of anonymity, her remarks were reported to the authorities by a pro-government organization, and their appeals frequently carry weight.

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