ECOWAS mediation in Mali

A key meeting on August 22 between Mali’s coup d’état officers and mediators from West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS are seeking a return path to civilian rule after months of protets against deposed President Ibrahim Boubacark Keita.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita arrest and imposed resignation have been condemned abroad, but celebrated by Malians after a substantial period of political unrest.

A delegation from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) earlier arrived in the capital, Bamako, for talks aimed at searching for the agreements of trnasition of power to civilians.
The bloc has taken a hard line on the coup, shutting borders and halting financial flows.

Ahead of a series of meetings with the officers and other groups, the head of the delegation, Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan, sounded optimistic.

“I believe at the end of the day we will come up with something that is best for the people and is good for ECOWAS and the international community,” he told journalists.

The most-anticipated meeting was held in the defence ministry, where ECOWAS mediators in face masks sat at a long table opposite military leader Assimi Goita, who wore a desert camouflage uniform and was flanked by other military officers in berets and fatigue.

The talks were set to last 90 minutes, according to a provisional ECOWAS schedue, but it has ended after just 20 minutes.

It was not clear if the schedule had been changed or talks were cut short. ECOWAS and the coup leaders, who call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), have yet to comment on the discussions.

Mali’s neighbours have called for Keita to be reinstated, saying the purpose of visit by the delegation from the regional ECOWAS bloc was to help “ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.

Keita is being detained by the rebel soldiers at a military camp outside Bamako.

“It is going very well,” said ex-Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, head of the ECOWAS delegation.

Jonathan met with Keita on August 22, saying that he’s “very fine”.

The CNSP has controlled the country since August 18, when the mutineers detained Keita and dozens of the Ministers, imposting their resignation. The officers have promised to oversee a transition to elections within a “reasonable” amount of time.

The ouster of Keita, known as IBK, has been accused of endemic corruption, consuming around 40% of state funds. Malians protests rocked by months calling for his resignation over alleged corruption and worsening security in areas where affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State are active. Ironically President Keita came to power also in a coup d’état eight years ago.

Colonel Assimi Goita has emerged as the military leader of CNSP. On August 21 the Pentagon acknowledged that Goita previously has participated in training with U.S. Africa Command and its special forces as part of multinational efforts to counter violent extremism in the region.

Mali confronts multiple challenges, with half of its 19 million inhabitants living in poverty. It also faces deep ethnic divisions rooted in history, and recent threats from Islamist jihadists in the north after.

Companies mining gold in Mali say they are operating as usual while monitoring a political crisis that shut the country’s borders.

It was not immediately clear whether miners would be able to export their gold – typically flown out of Mali to be refined – while air borders are shut. Mines would also likely be unable to import supplies until borders reopen.

One of Africa’s biggest producers of gold, Mali’s output rose to 71.1 metric tonnes in 2019, according to the government, and the state earned revenue of 403.6 billion CFA ($734M) from gold mining companies.

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