An Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consultative meeting to resolve the political crisis in Mali opened at the Peduase Lodge, Aburi Tuesday.
The meeting, convened by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Chairman of ECOWAS, is part of efforts by the bloc to end the political stalemate in the West African nation.
Tuesday’s meeting is being attended by at least eight Presidents, Mali’s political junta and other stakeholders.
Guinea’s Alpha Conde, Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe, Nigerien leader, Mahamadou Issoufou, who is the immediate past ECOWAS Chair, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Burkinanabe head of state Roch Marc Christian Kabore and the Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are taking part in the consultative meeting.
Mali, a country with a population of 20 million, 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.
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 that had been accused of mismanaging the economy and the ongoing insurgency in the north well, coupled with allegations of corruption against his administration.
Since June 2020, numerous protest have been staged to calling 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 the country. It also gave the military Junta a deadline of September 15 to appoint a new civilian President and Prime Minister.
It has since then been conducting mediation efforts with all the Malian parties. 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.