Tag Archives: ECOWAS

Mali on brink of conflict

Brussels 17.09.2020 Mali military commanders officially confirm that they are supporting a plan of the country led by a military man, without a further precision on the candidacy. However one can presume that traditionally this role can be attributed to the leader of the coup d’état on August 18, Colonel Assimi Goita (pictured).

Following the ECOWAS urgent meeting in Accra, the West African organisation, representing 15 countries, threatened Mali officers with a “total embargo” if power is not quickly handed over to a civilian transitional president and prime minister. In response the spokesperson has underlined that the option of a military-president remains open.

Reportedly this week Mali officers began the process of appointing these officials called to lead Mali during a transition that will bring civilians back to power, Colonel Ismaël Wagué, spokesperson for the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, told reporters.

“It keeps its options open as to the appointment of military figures, as it would like, or civilians, as ECOWAS demands, he added. “All options are on the table,” Colonel Wagué underlined.

Mali opposition demands power immediately

Mali’s military coup leaders must hand over power to a civilian transitional government immediately, the chairman of the West African regional bloc said on September 15, as a deadline expired for the ruling junta to appoint interim leaders. (Image above: social media).

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed economic sanctions after the August 18 coup d’état overthrowing the unpopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and said a new president should be appointed by August 15.

However the officers have concluded the charter that says the interim President of Mali can be a military or a civilian and has not yet indicated when the new government would be named, which should work towards organising free and fair elections in the period of 18 months.

“That country can no longer afford any delay in putting a responsible government in place,” the ECOWAS chairman said.

The leaders, representing 15 West African states did not inform about the consequences of failing to meet the deadline. The existing sanctions include border closures and the suspension of financial transations.

The Charter approved at multi-party talks in Mali also calls for an 18-month transition, but at present extraordinary reunion in Ghana ECOWAS leaders said that new elections should be held within a year.

The same day Malian media announced news of death of former President Gal Moussa Traoré, 84, who led Mali beween 1968-1991. Late Mr.Traoré was an army general.

Mali: adoption of transition Charter

Mali’s ruling officers have focused on political Charter which they have adopted today. The document could serve as a roadmap for transition to the civilian rule in the next one and a half year. The key element has been an appointment of an army representative as interim head of state to ensure the transition period in cooperation with the coalition that led anti-government protests before last month’s coup.

The charter ratified by participants in the talks with the ECOWAS states confirmed that the interim President can be a civilian or a soldier and will preside over a transitional period of 18 months before elections are held, said Moussa Camara, the spokesman for the talks.

The interim president will be selected among the army officers, Camara said in remarks at the end of three days of negotiations.

The M5-RFP coalition that led protests against unpopular President Ibrahim Boubcar Keita before the August 18 is eager to lead the transition, subsequently they have rejected the Charter, leaving the power in hand of the army.

Initially, the ECOWAS representing Mali’s West African neighbours, has failed to re-introduce President Keita, but they continued to insist on a transition of no more than one year led by the civilians.

However the new of the rejection of the Charter by the opposition, drags the country in further instability, and turmoil.

Mali crisis: EU fully supports ECOWAS

‘The EU is following closely the national consultations in Bamako, and in the region. These consulations should be inclusive to reflect the aspirations of the Malian people, and they should come to the conclusion as soon as possible, leading to a rapid transition of power led by the civilians. The EU fully supports the ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] heads of states demands of the transition led by a civilian President and a civilian Prime Minister to ensure the return to the Consitutional order within the period of one year», the European External Action Service spokesperson said, while reacting upon the political crisis in Mali, and the ultimatum of the ECOWAS, demanding from the military commanders to appoint a civilian head of state on September 15 the latest.

Mali’s military commanders have begun talks with opposition groups on its promised transition to civilian rule after mounting pressure in recent weeks to transfer power.

The officers, who overthrew unpopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in a coup d’état in August, pledged to step down after an undefined transition period, but the this vague perspective caused concerns of the neighbours and former colonial ruler France, demanding a swift transfer of power to civilian rule, fearing Mali could serve as a negative model for the other states in the region.

The 15-nation regional bloc ECOWAS had imposed sanctions and closed borders to Mali as part of efforts to press the military, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, 37, who is the head of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) into handing over power swiftly, and without further delay.

Influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, a key figure in the mass opposition protests that led to President Keita’s downfall, has insisted that the military government does not have “carte blanche”.

ECOWAS is calling for a swift return to civilian rule and a vote within a year, a timeline the officers united in the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), has yet not committed to.

ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, said both the President and the Prime minister shoud be appointed by September 15 the latest.

Some Malian political leaders have insisted, along with the ECOWAS, that the interim president is a civilian, but the according to different sources the recommendation of experts said these persons can be a military or a civilian.

The candidate must be not younger than 35, but not older than 75 and would not be eligible to stand for election at the end of the transition period, the quoted expert document said.

Ghana will host a mini-summit of ECOWAS leaders next Tuesday, September 15, a spokesperson for Ghana’s Foreign ministry said. At present there is no information about the steps and measures to be undertaken if the Malian officers refuse to comply with the ECOWAS demands.

Mali Imam supports ECOWAS demands

On September 9 the influential Mali cleric Imam Mahmoud Dicko urged the military commanders led by Colonel Assimi Goita to comply with demands from West African leaders (ECOWAS) to name a civilian interim transition President and Prime minister by September 15 to ease sanctions imposed after last month’s coup.

“If the international community, including ECOWAS, now thinks that the presidency of this transition should be given to civilians, let’s give it to civilians,” Dicko said, ruling himself out of the running.

“Mali is full of executives, men of integrity, let’s find this rare bird.”

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned and dissolved Parliament last month after imperative demands of the officers. The military coup d’état was welcomed by Malians, accusing the the government of endemic corruption, mounting to 40% of state funds.

Opposition groups also voiced enthusiastic support for the coup, but the sympathy has faded away last week when the opposition coalition, of which Dicko is a senior figure, sharply criticised the officers led by the Colonel Assimi Goita after they discovered that he was not invited to preliminary consultations about the transition.

International powers say that they fear the political uncertainty in Bamako could undermine the fight across West Africa’s Sahel region against Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

On September 5 the officers led by Assimi Goita began talks with Mali’s political parties and civil society groups over a transition to civilian rule. The move was welcomed by the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), but they did not lift the sanctions.

Dicko, a Salafist preacher who earlier this year electrified protesters during anti-government demonstrations, told the state broadcaster late on September 9 that Mali needed assistance and that it had nothing to gain by going behind the back of the international community.

New consultations are scheduled for Thursday, September 10 in the country. Discussions will focus on the distribution of posts between civilians and military, the duration of the transition and many other topics covering the transition period. Civil society, armed groups, political parties, unions and others are invited to the consultation. Probably the last round because Colonel Goita must make its decision before September 15, the date of the ECOWAS ultimatum.

This consultation will take place in Bamako, and is open to a broad spectrum of players. The documents provided by the committee of experts will help develop the debates. The military could withdraw from power, if there is a good guarantee, according to sources. Absent during the first consultations, the head of the officers in coma to Colonel Goita could take part in the work from September 10, claiming openness with regard to the transition.

Mali suffocated by ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) continues the imperative demands to the military commanders supported by Malians who assended power by coup d’état, to ensure a “rapid” return of civilian rule. The Republic of Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou on September 7 at the opening of ‘a summit of the ECOWAS in Niamey once again has underlined the major request for a clear timetable, ensuring the transition of power to the civilans.

“It is the duty of our community to assist the Malians with a view to the rapid reestablishment of all democratic institutions. The military junta must help us to help Mali”, affirmed Mr. Issoufou, also current president of the ECOWAS.

“Other strategic partners of the Malian people have the same hope,” he insisted.

President Issoufou recalled that the ECOWAS had “taken sanctions and asked the military junta to return to the barracks (…) and the establishment of a transition, lasting a maximum of 12 months, led by civilians “.

However the talks conducted by the ECOWAS are not reduced to verbal promotion of the democratic demands, the regional orgainsation has decided to close all its borders with Mali and block all the economic and financial transactions, launching a total blockade of the landlocked country.

As consequence even Mali neighbours started to doubt the effectiness of this drastic measure of the West African politicians, causing immense damage to Malians, already being listed among the poorest nations in the world. In Ayorou, a Nigerien town close to the border, residents are worried about the consequences of this closure, Radio RFI reports.

The residents of Ayorou are seeing short, medium and long term damages of the ECOWAS blocade because exchanges with neighboring Mali are essential for the city, especially concerning the supply of food products for the large Sunday market.

“There are the foodstuffs that they export, there is also tea, sugar and pasta. So really, if the borders are closed, we can say that the prices of the products will increase” the inhabitants of Ayorou complain.

Another consequence for the locals in the closing of the borders is damaging the travel between the various family members on the outskirts of Mali.

“If I wanted to visit family in villages on the border, for example in Koutougou which is around or eight kilometers from the border, it is a problem because the police do not accept the passage of vehicles” the local residents explain.

However the major concern is in absence of clarity for the future, how long will this devastaing for local population strategy last. The food shortages among neighboring countries, depending on Mali exports, are just part of the problem caused by the ECOWAS borders shut down. Nowadays the situaiton of the Malian population enters a dramatic stage of food insecurity, which has been a considerable problem for the internaitonal community, attempting to assist and provide humanitarian aid for the population, ensuring their human rights, namely right to life.

Escalating violence and insecurity in Mali have sparked an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, rendering 3.9 million people in need of assistance and protection – an increase of 700,000 since the beginning of the year, the UN said in December 2019.

Mali has been the scene of perpetual conflict and displacement for nearly eight years, when in January 2012, tensions in the marginalized north came to a head as rebels took over almost one-third of the country. A peace agreement signed in 2015 between the complex web of warring groups, has failed in implementation.

The report notes that eight years after the onset of the political crisis that has destabilized Mali, “the international community remains heavily focused on stabilization and counterterrorism, at times to the detriment of the worsening humanitarian situation.”

While insurgent violence in the north rages on, anti-Government elements have spread south into central Mali, where they have inflamed intercommunal tensions.

Some 70% of the people affected live in the conflict regions of Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao.

Throughout the year, UN and humanitarian partners have assisted about 900,000 people with food assistance and in 2020, the Humanitarian Response Plan seeks $365.6 million to assist nearly three million in urgent need.

While the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has restored some degreed of peace and government control there, the country’s northern and central regions remain trapped in cycles of violence.

The UN report (2019) has concluded that there is no purely military solution to the country’s crisis.

Although international humanitarian aid must be strengthened, Mali’s citizens also require a government willing and able to meet the needs of its people and address grievances at the root of the conflict while implementing the terms of the peace agreement in a timely and transparent fashion.

“The real war will be won by whoever wins over the population. And for now, the state is perceived to not even be trying”, said one of the UN representatives quoted in the report.

So fare the EU diplomacy has not expressed its position towards the ECOWAS strategy blocade of Mali trade, and finance.

“The decision to close borders by ECOWAS countries was undertaken on volonuraly basis” said the European Extenal Action Service spokesperson, while commenting on the issue.

Ghana President Akufo-Addo elected Chairman of ECOWAS

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo,77, has just been elected as the new Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), at the ongoing 57th ECOWAS Summit, which is being held in Niamey, capital of Niger.

The announcement has been made by Ghana government. The summit is being held at the Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Centre, where leaders will be considering reports form the 44th Ordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council at the Ministerial Level and the 84th Ordinary Session of the Ecowas Council of Ministers, which preceded the Summit, among others.

Among first to congratulate the President has been his wife Mme.Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady of Ghana.

In his own country, Ghana, President Akufo-Addo has been not spared from sharp criticism. The Minority in Parliament has dabbed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ‘Messiah of corruption’ following the missing excavators scandal.

The President, the Minority said, is the epicenter of all the corrupt deals and plain thievery occurring in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

Alghouth Ghana is assessed among the least corrupt African countries, the
Ghana’s anti-graft body, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), which is Transparency International’s Local Chapter, has announced that the country “loses close to US$3 billion to corruption annually,” according to GhanaWeb news portal.

The outlet cited GII Executive Director Linda Ofori-Kwafo, who stressed that successive governments have attempted to minimise corruption through “moral crusades to uphold high ethics, the confiscation of properties found to have been acquired through corruption or public reforms,” but that there is still a long way ahead to fight the problem.

Gymnich: attention to Mali

On August 26-27 the EU Foreign ministers might discuss the situation in Mali at their informal meeting in Berlin in the Gymnich format said the spokesperson for the bloc foreign affaris. The Foreign Ministers of the EU member states will have an opportunity to engage in an informal dialogue in a spirit of trust on current issues in the area of European foreign policy.

«The EU has condemned the coup [d’état] as the other African parities, and our priority now is to come up with the solution that is in line with the wishes of the people of Mali, so dialogue is only way to come out of this crisis in Mali, and the EU is remindig that the Consitutuional order must be established quickly by bringing back power to the civilian representatives as it has been said in the context of the CNSP [National Committe for the Salvation of the People] in order to meet the aspirations of the people of Mali.
«We would like to support the work which has been done by the ECOWAS, and thay are continuing to do so
” the spokesperson of the European External Action Service said (pictured).

On Monday, August 24 Mali’s military commanders and ECOWAS regional mediators discussed the roadmap and goals of a transitional leadership rather than the possibility of reinstating the ousted president, the initial proposal that was definitely refused. The meeting reportedly ended without an agreement of the timetalbe of the transiation, and new elections.
Initially, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, had sought to put pressure on the officeers to reinstate the uppopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita — also known as IBK for short, and widely criticised for the endemic corruption in the country, reaching 40% of state funds diverted to private pockets.

However, from the beginning of the talks the diplomats understood that IBK reinstatement is highly unlikely giventhe popularity of the coup d’état leaders among the population, and the support they gave to the officers in their actions against the President and the government. At present the #CNSP is insisiting that the swit organisation of election is not their aim, because it will not introduce the profound democratic change the people of Mali demand. The CNSP are not prepared to commit themselves to a scheduled elections timetalbe and follow it at any cost, although they understand it is the prference of the negihgours and the internaitonal community to have a democratically elected government without delay.

Mali CNSP-ECOWAS focus on roadmap

Talks between West African ECOWAS mediators and Mali’s military commanders ended on August 24 after three days of discussions without any decision on roadmap for a transitional government, the Malian spokesman said.

West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS mandated negotiators with the officers of the Mali National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) during the weekend in a bid to reverse President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s removal from power last week. However facing the refusal of the officers to return to the past, the initial plan did not withstand criticism, and further talks had focused on transitional goverment and the roadmap to elections, rather than the possibility of reinstating the unpopular president, diplomats said.

The protracted uncertainty would represet risks of the aggravation of the political crisis in Mali which, along with the other countries in the Sahel region, is facing a security threat from Islamist militants, expanding their scope of opearations.

Colonel Ismael Wague said mediators would report to the heads of state in West Africa ahead of a summit on Mali this week but, highlighting the popular backing the soldiers relay on, the final decision on the interim administration would be decided by Malians.

Nothing has been decided. Everyone has given their point of view,” Wague told reporters. “The final decision of the structure of the transition will be made by us Malians here.”

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who led the regional mediation team, said they requested and were granted access to Keita.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita told us that he has resigned. That he was not forced to do so. That he does not want to return to politics and that he wants a quick transition to allow the country to return to civilian rule,” Jonathan told reporters, commenting on the situation of the unpopular ousted former President.

The negotiations were taking place with under threat of regional sanctions hanging over the officers known as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP).

[Mediators] will discuss this with the heads of state so they can lift or at least ease the sanctions. Sanctions are not good for us or the population,” Wague said.

“This coup must be seen first and foremost in the context of the crisis in Mali. And what is urgent today is not to make mistakes when defining the modalities of the transition which opens after the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK). ECOWAS is already clearly insisting on the priority to be given to the return to constitutional order and the rapid organization of elections, and therefore to a transition that is as short as possible. It is a path that would be unproductive at best, dangerous at worst” writes Mathieu Olivier for Jeune Afrique newspaper.

“Organizing elections to get out of political crises, violent conflicts, periods of transition after a coup d’etat, is a recipe that we like. It generally has the approval and even the preference of the most influential external partners in search of interlocutors who would be legitimate because they are democratically elected. We then wait for miracles to happen, for political and economic governance to change after an election, no matter who the elected president is, no matter how good the electoral process is, and no matter how empty the pre-election political debate is” Olivier warns, insisting that imposing swift elections is not the best of solution of problems of Mali.

The regional branch of West Africa’s BCEAO central bank reopened on August 24, Monday.

ECOWAS delegation visit to Mali

A delegation from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to arrive in Bamako on Saturday, August 22 after the bloc held an emergency summit on the situation in Mali.

ECOWAS has already suspended Mali’s membership, shut off borders and halted financial flows to the country.

The military commanders in Bamako, Mali captial, said they acted without further delay because the country was sinking into chaos and insecurity, which was largely the fault of the poor government. They have promised to oversee a transition to free and fair elections within a “reasonable” period of time.

Their spokesman Ismael Wague said on August 20 that the officers were holding talks with political leaders that would resume in the appointment of a transitional president.

They have detained Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at base not far from the captial, imposing the dissolution of parliament and his own resignation.

A United Nations human rights team visited Keita and 13 other senior figures held by the officers late on the same day August 20, spokeswoman Liz Throssell said.

“There are no indications that these people have been ill-treated,” she told a news briefing in Geneva, where she called for their release.

On Friday, August 21, the officers freed Finance Minister Abdoulaye Daffe and the president’s private secretary, Sabane Mahalmoudou, the head of Keita’s party Bocary Treta said.

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