West African leaders will meet in Ghana on Sunday to discuss a response to Mali’s second coup in nine months, in the presence of the new president, Colonel Assimi Goita.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has invited Goita to visit Ghana’s capital, Accra, for “consultations” ahead of an extraordinary summit on Sunday devoted to Mali, according to a letter from the bloc. 15 nations seen by AFP.
He flew to Accra on Saturday, military and airport sources said.
In a statement on Facebook, the office of the Malian presidency indicated that Goita “would participate alongside his counterparts in the sub-region”.
He had held the post of vice president since last August’s coup that overthrew the democratically elected president, with the roles of president and prime minister being held by civilians after pressure from ECOWAS, which served as mediator.
However, on Monday, soldiers arrested transitional president Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, releasing them on Thursday saying they had resigned.
The two arrests sparked a diplomatic outcry and marked the second apparent coup in a year in the Sahel country.
The Constitutional Court of Mali completed on Friday Goita’s accession to full powers by appointing him transitional president.
With the junta going back on its previous commitment to civilian political leaders, doubts have been expressed about its other commitments, including the holding of elections in early 2020.
The junta said this week that it would continue to adhere to that timetable, but added that it could be subject to change.
The Constitutional Court said Goita “will serve as transitional president to bring the transition process to its conclusion.”
– Threat of sanctions –
ECOWAS, which issued sanctions against Mali after the August coup before lifting them when the transitional government was put in place, will meet on Sunday from 2 p.m. (2 p.m. GMT) in Accra.
The 15-nation bloc has warned against reimposing sanctions against the country, as have the United States and former colonial power France.
French leader Emmanuel Macron, during a visit to Rwanda and South Africa, said on Saturday that he had told West African leaders that they could not support a country “where there are no more democratic or transitional legitimacy ”.
Ndaw and Ouane’s detention comes hours after a government reshuffle that would have replaced the defense and security ministers, both army officers involved in the August coup.
On Friday, Goita said the military had no choice but to intervene.
“We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defense and security forces and we chose cohesion,” he said.
Goita added that he wants to appoint a prime minister of the M5 opposition movement within a few days.
The M5 led protests against former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in 2020 that increased the pressure ahead of his ouster, but he was excluded from key positions in the military-dominated post-coup administration.
A rapprochement with the group could serve to soften domestic and foreign criticism of the military.
Mali is regularly ranked among the poorest countries in the world. The previous ECOWAS sanctions have been severely felt by the country, which is reeling from numerous crises including an overwhelming jihadist insurgency.
© 2021 AFP