Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said he suspended a proposed amendment to the constitution, reversing an announcement earlier this month that he was determined to get the proposal approved.
The surprise decision, announced on state TV late Friday, comes after widespread protests against the proposal. Civil society organizations had called for more demonstrations if the project wasn’t withdrawn on Aug. 15, saying the changes would hand the president too much power. The plan included the creation of a Senate and would have enabled Mali’s president to appoint the head of the Constitutional Court as well as a third of the Senators.
A 2015 peace accord with armed groups in the north of the country stipulated changes to the constitution to allow a degree of autonomy to regional authorities. Opponents of the referendum also said that the country’s north wasn’t safe enough to hold a fair vote.