ECOWAS suspends Mali from regional bloc

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last night suspended the membership of Mali from the regional bloc. The decision was announced after an emergency meeting of the sub-regions leaders in Accra, Ghana yesterday by the chairman of ECOWAS, President Akufo-Addo, to deliberate on the political crisis in Mali.

Ghana’s foreign minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, who briefed the media after the summit, said the suspension was in response to the Mali junta’s non-adherence to the mediatory role of ECOWAS.

Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari and other ECOWAS leaders met yesterday in Ghana to decide on fresh sanctions against Mali.

This comes as Col. Assimi Goita effectively assumed leadership of the country’s transition government. His authority had been legalised by the constitutional court

Chairman of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana said the parley would holistically review the situation and impose appropriate measures.

Goita took power on Wednesday, following the sacking of former Interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane.

He led August 18, 2020, military coup that toppled the government of elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and the ‘coup within a coup’ last week.

Ndaw and Ouane, who are now released from military detention, were detained following a cabinet reshuffle in which two army officers involved in the previous putsch lost their jobs.

Goïta had complained that the ex-president never consulted him.

Reacting to the development, President Emmanuel Macron of France warned that his country would withdraw troops from the Francophone African nation if the political instability degenerates to Islamist radicalisation.

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The European nation has 5,100 troops in the Sahel region fighting militancy.

The United States Department of State said it would halt its security assistance to Mali following the latest developments.

“We are now suspending all security assistance that benefits the Malian security and defence forces that we had continued previously pursuant to available authorities,” a statement said.

“The United States will also consider targeted measures against political and military leaders who impede Mali’s civilian-led transition to democratic governance,” it added.

The landlocked nation has struggled with mass protests over corruption, electoral probity and a jihadist insurgency that had made much of the north and east ungovernable.

Ex-President Keïta, who took office in September 2013, was unable to unify the country and tame insurgency, leading to his ouster by the military in an August 2020 coup.

Also reacting, Nigerian diplomat, Ambassador Gani Lawal, acknowledged that Mali’s constitutional court had done its job.

He noted: “The question is whether it is doing it without pressure from the government. ECOWAS is also doing its job of zero tolerance for unconstitutional take-over of government. There is no doubt that ECOWAS is not under the influence of anyone. So let’s wait and see which of the institutions will have the last say.”

Head of Department, Politics and International Relations, Lead City University, Ibadan, Dr. Tunji Oseni, said the court settled for the soldiers as a way of political compromise.

According to foreign affairs scholar, Prof. Alaba Ogunsanwo, it would be better to wait and see what sanction ECOWAS would impose on the junta.

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