President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Chairman of ECOWAS, says there was need to bring finality to the upheaval in Mali.
“That country can no longer afford any delay in putting a responsible government in place following the events of 18th of August.
The circumstances in Mali today require that closure be brought to the matter now,” he said.
The President was addressing a meeting convened by him at the Peduase Presidential Lodge to resolve the political stalemate in Mali.
He said it was his belief that a face-to-face meeting between the representatives of the ECOWAS Community and the military leaders in Bamako provided the best opportunity to find a resolution to the situation.
He said terrorists were taking advantage of the situation in Mali ” to flex their muscles even more” and thanked the military leader for responding positively to his invitation to the meeting.
The ECOWAS Chair reminded the meeting that today was the day for the military rulers to put in place a government which should respond to the criteria set in August by the bloc.
He said it was unfortunate that the deadline had not been met, but thanked the Malian military rulers for allowing Mr Keita to leave the country to seek medical attention in the United Arab Emirates.
Mali, a country of 20 million people, has been unstable politically since 2012 when soldiers opposed to the response by the government to the separatist insurgency by Tuareg rebels in the country’s north, staged a coup d’etat.
Since then, the political unrest in that country has served as a magnet for al-Qaeda and ISIL-linked groups, who have launched attacks on other West African nations from there, drawing concerns from the 15-member regional bloc.
The recent unrest in the country follows the worsening security situation created by extremist Islamic groups who have leveraged the Tuareg insurgency and local militia that have banded to quell the chaos.
Mali’s leader, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita whose reelection in 2018 was marred by low turnout and allegations of fraud further ignited deep resentment for his government.
He has also been accused of mismanaging the economy and the ongoing insurgency in the north coupled with allegations of corruption.
Since June 2020, numerous protests have been staged for Keita’s resignation, leading to elements of the Malian Armed Forces staging a coup on August 18, 2020, forcing the 75-year-old leader to resign and dissolve his government, with the Junta promising new elections within a reasonable timeline.
The situation was strongly condemned by the international community including the United Nations, the African Union, as well as ECOWAS, who urged the soldier to return to barracks, release immediately Keita who had been held since his deposition.
ECOWAS further imposed sanctions on Mali and asked neighbouring states to close their land and air borders with that country.
It also gave the military Junta a deadline of September 15 to appoint a new civilian President and Prime Minister.
The Peduase meeting, the first official assignment of President Akufo-Addo after assuming the position as Chairman of the Commission, will consolidate all the mediation efforts by the bloc to return Mali to constitutional rule and prevent further deterioration of the political situation there.