ECOWAS Suspends Mali until Return to Civil Rule
Michael Olugbode in Abuja
Mali has been suspended from the West African regional bloc, Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) until the current military dictators vacate office and the country returns to civil rule.
The decision was announced yesterday after an emergency meeting of the sub-region’s leaders in Accra, Ghana.
Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorko Botchwey, told journalists that the Mali junta’s non-adherence to the mediatory role of ECOWAS necessitated the decision of ECOWAS leaders to suspend the country.
She added that the West African leaders gave a few days’ ultimatum to the Colonel Assimi Goitta-led junta to restore a civilian to the post of prime minister, so that the transition agreed to following the ouster of the democratically-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August, is followed up to its February 2022 terminal date.
ECOWAS envoy, and former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodlluck Jonathan, had briefed the meeting behind closed-doors on his mediatory trips to Mali last week.
The communiqué released after the meeting stated that an extraordinary summit was convened to review the prevailing socio-political crisis in Mali following the arrest, detention and subsequent resignations of the president and the prime minister of the transition on May 26, as well as to determine the next line of action for the transition.
The communiqué said after the presentation of the report by Jonathan, the heads of state expressed concerns about the crisis in Mali, which is coming half-way to the end of the agreed transition period, in the context of the security challenges related to incessant terrorist attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic, with its dire socio-economic impacts.
The heads of state also demanded the immediate release of the former president and prime minister of the transition who are kept under house arrest.
They also condemned the recent coup, which they described as a violation of the decisions taken at the extraordinary summit held in Aburi, Ghana, on September 15, 2020 and a violation of the Transition Charter.
The heads of state, after extensive discussions on the situation in Mali, reaffirmed the importance and necessity of respecting the democratic process for ascending to power, in conformity with the 2001 ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
They condemned all actions that led to the ongoing instability in Mali and its attendant consequences in the region.
They also demanded that a new inclusive government should be formed to proceed with the transition programme, while reaffirming the need to respect the transition period of 18 months decided in Accra.
“In this context, the date of February 27, 2022 already announced for the presidential election should be absolutely maintained. A monitoring mechanism will be put in place to this effect,” the communiqué stated.
The heads of state also reiterated the earlier decisions that the head of the transition, the vice-president and the prime minister of the transition should not, under any circumstances, be candidates in the forthcoming presidential election.
They reaffirmed ECOWAS’ support to accompany the transition process in Mali, and urged all international partners (the African Union, the United Nations, and the European Union) to continue to support Mali towards the successful implementation of the transition process.
They, however, congratulated and encouraged the mediator to persevere with his mediation efforts and remain seized of the situation in Mali through the Local Monitoring Committee, while calling for the immediate implementation of all the decisions in conformity with the transition timetable defined.
They also asked the mediator to return to Mali within a week to engage stakeholders on these decisions.