Relatives and collaborators of former Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, who died on 21 March at age 67, meet in Bamako to pay tribute to the late PM. He was laid to rest in the Bozola cemetery on Thursday.
To bid farewell to Mali’s former minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, a large crowd was gathered at the gates of the Bozola cemetery in Bamako. On Thursday, people rushed into the graveyard for the funeral ceremony of the former PM who died in custody at a hospital on Monday.
Relatives, a generation of political allies and former ministers attended the ceremony just one day after Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga’s family recovered his mortal remains from the Malian authorities.
The political figure died aged 67 in a clinic where he was surrounded by guards as he was held on suspicion of corruption.
"I regret one thing. That he left under these circumstances. He had fought for the rule of law, for the free expression of opinions and freedoms, for a state of justice. Unfortunately, we regret that in the end he did not benefit from it."
Fraud and forgery charges
Maïga had been in custody since August 2021 in prison but he was transferred in December due to deteriorating health. One of his former co-detainee praised his fighting spirit and his legacy: "I would tell him one single phrase every morning at the MCA prison, I’d saiy: 'Mr. Prime Minister, how's your health?' He would reply with God’s help I will hold on and do everything to dissociate the body from the spirit. They took the body but the spirit remains. Because Soumeylou's spirit lives on. I think that was a message he wanted to give. Remember that Soumeylou said to 'separate the body from the spirit'. Soumeylou's body has been taken, but his spirit will remain in our political landscape for a very long time."
Maïga was appointed Prime minister by late president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta but he resigned 2 years later. After Keïta who was overthrown by Colonel Goita in 2020, Maïga was questioned in connection with the allegedly fraudulent purchase of a presidential plane.
Inquiry into "troubling" death
Late Monday, a group of political parties named the "Cadre d'echange", or Exchange Framework, stated that Maïga had died "a political prisoner, in very troubling conditions". The group of about a dozen parties, of which Maiga was a leader, called on Mali's army-dominated government to establish an independent inquiry into his death.
Another political group, Parena, also urged the authorities to investigate Maïga's death. His brother Tiegoum Boubeye Maiga likened the death to a "planned assassination" because the former PM's relatives had requested his release arguing he needed urgent medical treatment. However, authorities systematically refused. In an official statement issued on Monday, the Malian government extended its "deepest sympathies" to the grieving family.