West African leaders take another look at Mali’s fate


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The heads of state and government of the West African Community of States (ECOWAS) meet on Sunday in Accra to discuss the situation in Mali and take possible sanctions against the military junta responsible for a second coup d’état against civil power in less than a year.

Firmness or gentleness? West African leaders meet Sunday, May 30 in Ghana to settle the thorny question of their response to the double putsch of the Malian soldiers, Colonel Assimi Goïta, now officially president of Mali, also being invited to Accra.

The heads of state and government of the West African Community of States (ECOWAS) meet from 2 p.m. (local and GMT) in the Ghanaian capital for an extraordinary summit exclusively devoted to Mali.

ECOWAS invited Colonel Goïta to come to Accra on Saturday for “consultations”, indicates a letter from the organization consulted by AFP. According to the presidency of Mali, he got off to a good start on Saturday for Ghana and will take part in the summit on Sunday.

French President Emmanuel Macron for his part warned, in an interview with the Sunday Journal, that Paris “would not remain alongside a country where there is no longer democratic legitimacy or transition”.

Colonel Goïta, new strong man

The Malian Constitutional Court declared on Friday Colonel Goïta the country’s transitional president, completing the coup launched on Monday against those who were between him and the leadership of this country, plunged into turmoil but crucial for the stability of the Sahel in the face of the jihadist rise.

The Constitutional Court thus formalized a fait accompli that Mali’s partners had tried to oppose after the August 2020 coup.

Assimi Goïta and a group of colonels then overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta after months of popular protest. The junta had, under international pressure, to accept the appointment of a civilian president and prime minister. She pledged to hold elections and hand power back to civilians after an 18-month transition.

The junta, however, had carved out a tailor-made vice-presidency for Assimi Goïta, invested with essential security responsibilities. The colonels had appointed theirs to key positions.

On Monday, the former special forces battalion commander arrested the president and the prime minister, civil guarantors for the transition. The initial version of an authoritarian impeachment officially became a resignation.

The commitment to a civil transition is trampled underfoot, raising doubts on others, starting with the holding of elections in early 2022. The junta has said in recent days that it intends to respect the timetable, but added that ‘he could be subject to contingencies.

The Constitutional Court writes that Colonel Goïta will chair the transition until the end.

>> To read also: “Political crisis in Mali: young Malians in France express their disillusionment”

Threat of sanctions

On Friday, in an apparent effort to mobilize domestic support, Colonel Goïta said he intended to appoint “in the days to come” a Prime Minister from a collective which in 2020 had led months of protest against the former president Keïta but that the colonels, once the head of state was overthrown, had taken care to leave on the sidelines of the transition.

Even with such a prime minister, the appointment of Assimi Goïta challenges Mali’s neighbors and partners to respond.

The ECOWAS had co-drafted with the African Union, the UN mission in Mali (Minusma), France, the United States and others a statement rejecting “in advance any act imposed by constraint, including resignations forced “.

An ECOWAS mission dispatched during the week to Mali raised the possibility of sanctions. France and the United States, militarily engaged in the Sahel, brandished the threat.

“The political transition will be led by a civilian” and “the vice-president of the transition (…) can in no way replace the president of the transition,” West African leaders said in a meeting with the junta on September 15, 2020 after the first coup.

The ECOWAS had suspended Mali from all its decision-making bodies, closed the borders of its member states and stopped financial and commercial exchanges with Mali, with the exception of basic necessities.

It had lifted the sanctions, badly felt by a population suffering in a bloodless country, when the junta appeared to bend to its demands.

With AFP

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