Following its sanctions on Mali for ousting its political leaders in a military coup, the Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will, on Thursday, attend an extra-ordinary virtual meeting to take a position on the impasse.
President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to join other leaders of the regional bloc to discuss the next line of action after several failed mediation efforts to put an end to the destabilisation of the nation, a statement by Nigerian presidency said on Wednesday.
“There will be a Virtual Extraordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government tomorrow, Thursday, August 20; on the situation in Mali. President @MBuhari will be participating,” Bashir Ahmad, a media aide to Mr Buhari said in a Twitter post.
A Tuesday coup by mutineering soldiers led to the arrest and eventual resignation of the Malian President, Ibrahim Keita, following weeks of civil protest against his perceived corrupt and inept rule. This has drawn the ire of the international community.
Following condemnations of the mutiny, ECOWAS banned Mali from all its decision-making bodies with immediate effect and ordered its member-states to shut their borders and economic trade against Mali.
“Following its statement published on August 18, reporting on an on-going mutiny within the Malian Armed Forces, ECOWAS has noted with great concern the seizure of power by Malian military putschists. This seizure of power intervenes within a difficult socio-political context.
“Indeed, ECOWAS recalls that a mediation process has been on-going during the past two months, with a view to finding a solution to this crisis.
“Following this power grab by Malian military putschists, which is likely to have a negative impact on peace and stability in Mali and in sub- region, ECOWAS utterly condemns the overthrowing of President Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita’s democratically elected government,” ECOWAS said in a statement.
Mali has been in the midst of months-long political impasse.
The recent turmoil dates back to a 2012 coup by soldiers who were opposed to what they saw as a weak response to a growing violent extremism by a rebel group, the Tuareg.
Mr Keita’s promises after the 2013 election centred around halting the insurgency in the country, yet it persisted, causing doubts about his ability to contain it.
His 2018 re-election further excerberated growing frustration from many citizens. However, the crisis reached a climax, following the April parliamentary elections, marred by allegations of fraud and malpractices.
An opposition coalition immediately called for Mr Keita’s resignation. This was followed by weeks of mass demonstrations in which the ousted president refused to resign. He, however, made weak attempts to pacify the opposition.
Efforts made by ECOWAS mediator and Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, to bring together Mr Keïta and leaders of the opposition movement for talks failed, despite recommendations for a unity government.
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