Mali’s Toure pressured by Islamic body into reviewing family code

Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure has sent a new family code that would boost women’s rights back to parliament for revision, giving in to pressure from the country’s top Islamic body and traditional leaders.

The new code, aimed at improving women’s rights by removing a previous clause demanding that they must obey their husbands, had won the backing of parliament but led to mass protests of tens of thousands in the mainly Muslim state.

“Having widely consulted state institutions, civil society and legal bodies, and seen the need for peace, I have taken the decision to send the code … back for a second reading,” Toure said on state television late on Wednesday.

Toure said that the decision did not mean the code had been rejected but he wanted parliament to correct some imperfections so that it would receive the support of everyone.

Less than ten changes would have to be made but they were unlikely to be completed before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Sept. 21, he added.

Mali’s High Islamic Council warned earlier this week that Toure would be acting against the will of the country’s 80 percent Muslims if he had signed the code into law.

The body had also threatened further protests against the code after a rally at the weekend drew some 50,000 onto the streets of the capital, Bamako.

Cotton-producing Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. While it is predominantly Muslim, it has a secular constitution.


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