The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has suspended Mali over its lingering political impasse which has been worsened by a recent coup in the country. The decision was reached during an emergency extraordinary summit of ECOWAS on the political situation in the country on Sunday in Accra, Ghana. The meeting was at the instance of the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo. Prior to the summit, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari had met with the special envoy and ECOWAS mediator in Mali, former President Goodluck Jonathan, who briefed him on the latest developments in the country following his meeting with key political actors in the West African country.
As the situation in Mali continued to evolve, Nigeria had condemned the May 24 military coup, the subsequent detention of the president and prime minister by soldiers, and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilian officials detained.
The extraordinary summit was convened to review the prevailing socio-political crisis in Mali following the arrest, detention and subsequent resignations of the president and prime minister of the transition on 26th May 2021 as well as to determine the next line of action for the transition. According to the communiqué of the summit, the Heads of State expressed “strong and deep concerns” over the present crisis in Mali, which is coming halfway to the end of the agreed transition period, in the context of the security challenges related to incessant terrorist attacks and the Covid-19 pandemic with its dire socio-economic impact. They, therefore, demanded the immediate release of the former president and prime minister of the Transition who are being kept under house arrest.
The heads of state also strongly condemned the recent coup d’etat which they described as a violation of the decisions taken at the extraordinary summit held at the Peduase Lodge, Aburi, Ghana on 15th September 2020 and a violation of the Transition Charter. “After extensive discussions on the situation in Mali, the Heads of State and Government took the following decisions: Reaffirm the importance and necessity of respecting the democratic process for ascending to power, in conformity with the 2001 ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. They particularly condemn all actions that led to ongoing instability in Mali and its attendant consequences in the region. They also decided to suspend Mali from ECOWAS institutions in line with ECOWAS provisions, and called for a new civilian prime minister to be nominated immediately. A new inclusive government should be formed to proceed with the transition programme, the body also demanded.
They reaffirmed: “the need to respect the transition period of 18 months decided in Accra. In this context, the date of 27th February 2022 already announced for the presidential election should be absolutely maintained. A monitoring mechanism will be put in place to this effect.” They reiterated the earlier decisions that the head of the transition, the vice-president and prime minister of the transition should not, under any circumstances, be candidates in the forthcoming presidential election.
The heads of state reaffirmed ECOWAS’ support the transition process in Mali. They urged “all international partners (the African Union, the United Nations, and the European Union) to continue to support Mali towards the successful implementation of the transition.”
We welcome this decision by ECOWAS on the coup in Mali and that of the African Union. The constitutional crisis in that country is so dicey that a timely and robust condemnation is required of all lovers of democracy. A military takeover is an anachronism, and Mali should not be allowed as the soiled thumb in West Africa and the African continent.
Mali is already enmeshed in an insurgency that has ravaged its economy, killed hundreds and rendered thousands homeless. A coup is, therefore, the last thing this impoverished nation needs right now.