ECOWAS kicks Mali out of 15-nation bloc after coups

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 00:00 |
President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo chairs the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on the situation in Mali in Accra on May 30. West African leaders met in Ghana to discuss a response to Mali’s second coup in nine months. Photo/AFP

Accra, Monday

West African leaders have suspended Mali from their regional bloc in response to last week’s coup but stopped short of imposing new sanctions.

Leaders of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held an emergency summit in Ghana’s capital, Accra on Sunday to agree to a response to the Malian military’s toppling of a president and prime minister for the second time in nine months.

Mali’s neighbours and international powers fear the latest revolt will jeopardise a commitment to hold a presidential election next February and undermine a regional fight against armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).

Speaking after the meeting, Ghana’s Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway said Mali’s suspension “from ECOWAS takes immediate effect until the deadline of the end of February 2022”, when the country’s interim leaders “are supposed to hand over to a democratically elected government”.

Civilian Prime minister

The bloc’s final communique also called for the immediate appointment of a new civilian prime minister and the formation of an “inclusive” government.

However it did not announce sanctions like those it imposed after the coup last August, which saw members temporarily close their borders with landlocked Mali and halt financial transactions.

It also did not call for new interim President Assimi Goita to step down. The army colonel, who led the August coup as well as last week’s revolt, was declared president on Friday.

Instead, the statement said, the head of the transition government, the vice president and the prime minister should not under any circumstances be candidates in the planned presidential election.

“The date of 27th February 2022 already announced for the presidential election should be absolutely maintained,” it stressed.

No response

There was no immediate response from Goita, who attended the summit.

The 38-year-old special forces commander was one of several colonels who overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last year.

He also ordered the arrests last Monday of interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, hours after a cabinet reshuffle that left out two members of the military.

Goita, who was Ndaw’s former deputy, justified his actions by saying there was discord within the transitional government and that he was not consulted, per the transitional charter, when the new cabinet was chosen. - BBC

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