Ecowas rejects Mali junta's hopes of five-year transition to civilian rule

The mediator of West Africa's regional bloc, Ecowas, has delivered a message to Mali's junta leader ahead of a summit on Sunday to address the timetable of a transition to civilian rule. Mali's military took over the country in August 2020.

Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, head of the Ecowas mediation delegation to Mali, in Bamako.
Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, head of the Ecowas mediation delegation to Mali, in Bamako. © Amadou Keita/Reuters

The message, the details of which have not been revealed, came during a meeting between former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan – who heads a delegation of Ecowas mediators in Mali – and Interim President Colonel Assimi Goita, who lead the coup that toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

In a post on Twitter, the Malian presidency said the talks addressed the “evolution of the political situation” in the country.

RFI Mali correspondent Kaourou Magassa says the issue at stake is the timetable for elections and a transition to civilian rule.

Goita, who also staged a de-facto second coup in May 2021 forcing out an interim civilian government, had initially committed to holding elections by 27 February, 2022.

But on 30 December the government revised its timeline, proposing a transition period lasting between six months and five years, dating from 1 January, 2020, to enable the authorities to "carry out structural institutional reforms” and organise fair elections.

The junta has cited insecurity in the north of Mali as the reason for postponing elections.

Large parts of the country are out of the government's control, run by groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Isalmic State armed group, who attack civilians and soldiers.

Five years not acceptable

Speaking to diplomats in Bamako, Jonathan made it clear that an extension would not be acceptable.

Magassa said a member of the mediation delegation pointed out to journalists that five years is longer than the term of a democratically elected president in Nigeria.

The junta’s proposal has been rejected by local parties and associations, and Ecowas insists on elections on by February, as initially planned.

At a summit in December, Ecowas leaders maintained sanctions against dozens of junta members and their families, and threatened further "economic and financial" measures if elections are postponed.

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