West African leaders hold an urgent summit on the coup in Mali

West African leaders gathered in Ghana on Sunday to discuss a response to the second coup in Mali in nine months, which has sparked warnings of new sanctions and deep concerns about stability in the unstable Sahel region.

Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, started the talks and emphasized the “commitment to a peaceful transition” in Mali.

Presidents Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast and Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso were among those attending the extraordinary summit, which took place as another deadly jihadist attack that underscored Mali’s chronic instability.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, mediator in the crisis, was also in attendance.

“I call on your excellence to remain resolute in supporting the people of Mali to find a peaceful solution and restore democracy and stability in the country,” said Akufo-Addo, whose country holds the rotating presidency of Mali. the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“I reiterate, on behalf of ECOWAS, our continued commitment to the peaceful transition in Mali with the basic goal of restoring democratic government and stability in Mali and in our region,” he said.

Mali’s new president, Colonel Assimi Goita, had arrived in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Saturday for preparatory talks.

Goita led the young army officers who overthrew Mali’s elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August last year for alleged corruption and his failure to quell a bloody jihadist uprising.

After the takeover, the military agreed to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister under pressure from ECOWAS.

But on Monday, soldiers detained transitional President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and released them on Thursday saying they had resigned.

The double arrests sparked a diplomatic uproar and marked Mali’s second apparent coup in a year.

Mali’s constitutional court on Friday completed Goita’s rise to full power by appointing him transitional president.

As the junta goes back on its earlier commitment to civilian political leaders, doubts have been raised about its other commitments, including a pledge to hold elections in early 2022.

The junta said this week that it would continue to respect that timetable, but added that it could be subject to change.

Five dead in new attack

Mali’s presidency said on its Facebook page that Goita would hold one-on-one talks with Akufo-Addo in Accra “and bilateral meetings with partners and friends from Mali.”

ECOWAS issued sanctions against Mali after the August coup before being lifted when the transitional government was established.

The 15-country bloc has warned against reintroducing sanctions against the country, as has the United States and former colonial power France.

French leader Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper published on Sunday that Paris “could not stay on the side of a country where there is no longer any democratic legitimacy or transition”.

And he warned that France would withdraw its troops from Mali if the country under Goita’s leadership turns towards radical Islamism.

France has about 5,100 troops in the region under its anti-jihadist operation Barkhane, which includes five countries in the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Four civilians and a police officer were murdered on Sunday by suspected jihadists in southern Mali, a region previously largely spared the country’s Islamic unrest, a security official said on condition of anonymity.

The unidentified men attacked a checkpoint near the town of Bougouni, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Mali’s border with the Ivory Coast and Guinea between 3:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. GMT) and 4 a.m., the official said. A local legislator confirmed the attack.

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world and previous ECOWAS sanctions have hit hard.

(AFP)

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