Mali’s military-dominated government on Monday launched a four-day national forum on returning the country to civilian rule following the country’s August 2020 coup. The authorities have showcased the “National Conference on Reform” as a chance for the public to foster change, but major groups have already lashed the project and said they will boycott it. The meeting “will make an unflinching assessment of the state of the nation (and) draw the best lessons from it,” Mali’s transitional president, Colonel AssimiGoita, said at an opening ceremony. “It will also be your task to make concrete proposals, to devise a solution for ending the crisis,” he said. One of the poorest countries in the world, Mali has enjoyed only brief spells of political stability since it gained independence from France in 1960. In August 2020, young officers led by Goita toppled the country’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, after weeks of street protests over perceived corruption and his handling of a bloody jihadist insurgency. Under pressure from France and Mali’s neighbours, Goita pledged Mali would return to civilian rule in February 2022 after holding presidential and legislative elections. But in May this year, he staged a de facto second coup, forcing out an interim civilian government and disrupting the timetable.