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West African leaders demand Mali elections again

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The heads of state, after long discussions, decided to maintain the date of February 27, 2022 for the organization of elections in Mali. They decided to enter into force additional sanctions in January 2022 if the authorities do not honor their initial commitment to hold on that date elections supposed to bring civilians back to power, the president of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS ), Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.

However, the nature of these sanctions has not been specified. The mediator of the Economic Community of West African States in the crisis, Goodluck Jonathan, will visit Mali in the coming days for discussions with the authorities, said this source.

The Economic Community of West African States therefore ignored the attempt to appease the Malian transitional president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, who had pledged before the summit to submit an electoral calendar before January 31.

The colonel in uniform.

Colonel Assimi Goïta

Photo: Reuters / FRANCIS KOKOROKO

Before the summit, Colonel Goïta, who came to the head of the Sahelian country by a putsch in August 2020 and reinforced by a second coup d’état in May 2021, wrote to the current presidency of the organization.

The Republic of Mali, through me, undertakes to provide you with a timetable no later than January 31, 2022 [calendrier] detailed, he said in this two-page letter.

At the previous summit on November 7, West African leaders had taken note of the formalization by the Malian authorities that they would not respect their commitment to organize at the end of February 2022 presidential and legislative elections which would bring civilians back to the leadership of the country, plunged into a deep security, political and economic crisis.

The Economic Community of West African States had frozen the financial assets and banned travel within the West African space all those whom it judged guilty of delaying the elections: approximately 150 personalities, including the Prime Minister and almost all the government, as well as their families.

The return to constitutional order, a priority

To justify an electoral postponement, the duration of which is unknown, the Malian government invokes persistent insecurity. Since independence and jihadist insurgencies in 2012, this poor and landlocked country has been subjected to the actions of groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State armed group, as well as to violence of all kinds perpetrated by self-proclaimed self-defense militias and militias. bandits. The regular forces are themselves accused of abuses.

Despite the deployment of UN, French and foreign forces, violence has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. No improvement has been observed in Mali since the seizure of power by the military.

Two soldiers standing in a wasteland

Soldiers near the village of Kandadji which is located in the region known as the “three borders” (Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso), where groups of suspected jihadists have increased attacks against civilians.

Photo: afp via getty images / BOUREIMA HAMA

In his letter, Colonel Goïta does not expand on the country’s security problems, illustrated by the massacre of more than 30 civilians by suspected jihadists and the death of seven peacekeepers killed by an explosive device in December in the center. from the country.

He invokes the efforts undertaken to create the conditions conducive to the holding of transparent and credible elections : intensification of operations to secure the territory, presentation of an electoral law and launch of consultations on Saturday, called Assises nationale de la refondation, presented by the government as an essential prerequisite.

These Assises are supposed to lead to recommendations for fundamental reforms. The merits of the Assises are highly contested in Mali.

The return to constitutional order is and will remain my top priority, assures Colonel Goïta.

After Mali, the Economic Community of West African States was confronted in September with its third putsch in a year in the sub-region, with the overthrow in Guinea of ​​President Alpha Condé.

It suspended Guinea from its instances and individually sanctioned the members of the junta. She called for elections to be held within six months.

The strongman of Guinea, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, has pledged to return power to civilians. But he refuses to be dictated by a transition period.

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