[JURIST] Mali leaders announced on Thursday that they have drafted a new constitution following last week's military coup [JURIST report]. In a statement read on Mali state television, it was announced that the new constitution will allow citizens to demonstrate or go on strike and that it will provide immunity to the leaders of the military coup. The announcement comes after the Economic Community of West African States [official website] announced it would send a delegation into Mali [press release] to "secure the speedy restoration of constitutional order in the country." The country's new leaders also announced that they plan to hold elections, although they did not announce an election date. Under the new constitution, the leaders of the coup that toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure [Al Jazeera profile] would not be eligible to run for elected office.
Mali has experienced military turmoil since Taureg rebels began attacking Malian soldiers [Al Jazeera report] in January. Earlier this week, the acting head of the EU delegation in Mali, Bertrand Soret, met with the leader of the coup [JURIST report] urging a quick return to constitutional order in the country. Early this month, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) [official website] said that more than 80,000 people had fled Mali [press release] to escape the fighting. In February, the UNHCR appealed for additional funds and resources [report, PDF] to deal with the crisis, after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] expressed concern [statement] about the growing number of refugees in the region.