After several failed mediation efforts as regional powers, leaders of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) plan to visit Mali over the recent coup in the country, Reuters reports.
West African leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday convened an extraordinary session to discuss the crisis in Mali after a military coup overthrew President Ibrahim Keita alongside the Prime Minister on Tuesday.
The regional bloc had immediately taken actions by banning the country from all its decision-making bodies with immediate effect and ordering member-states to shut their borders and economic trade against it.
However, new development following the crucial meeting of ECOWAS leaders shows that the bloc plans to send a delegation of presidents, including the leaders of Niger, Senegal and Ghana, to Mali’s capital, Bamako, to seek a resolution to the crisis, after several peace missions by ECOWAS mediator and former Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan failed.
The development came after the M5-RFP opposition coalition, which held mass protests to demand Mr Keita’s resignation, joined the mutineers to reject foreign interference.
Following Tuesday’s coup, the international community widely condemned the actions of the mutineers despite local celebration in Mali. China, U.S., UN, UK, and France from which Mali gained its independence, all voiced their opposition to the regime change by force in the West African state.
Yet, the M5-RFP opposition coalition alongside the mutineering soldiers who are in-charge in Mali said foreign interference is off the line.
The coalition condemned the initial response of ECOWAS’ leaders who fear the coup could set off unrest in the region.
“(The leaders) are on an all-out drive to set ECOWAS against Mali,” the M5-RFP spokesman, Nouhoum Togo, said
President Buhari at the ECOWAS’s virtual meeting said the political upheaval in Mali could destabilise the entire region and thus, called for measures to deescalate the situation and to restore democracy.
“The events in Mali are great setbacks for regional diplomacy, with grave consequences for the peace and security of West Africa. It is time for the unconstitutional ‘authority’ in Mali to act responsibly and ensure restoration of constitutional order, peace and stability,” the Nigerian leader said.
He said Nigeria would support efforts by the regional bloc, the African Union and the United Nations in the adoption of strong measures to bring a speedy resolution to the situation.
“A politically stable Mali is paramount and crucial to the stability of the sub-region. We must all join efforts, ECOWAS, the AU, the UN and other stakeholders, and work together until sanity returns to Mali with the restoration of Civil Administration,” he said.
Mood in Mali
The mood in the country remained calm except for the insurgency-ravaged north. The mutineers’ spokesman, Ismael Wague, ordered people in Mali’s capital, Bamako, where the coup was staged, to return to work and go about their daily lives.
A Reuters reporter said the capital city was still calm two days after the coup.
A Malian political analyst, Cheick Doumbia, told PREMIUM TIMES that though the euphoria from the coup is still fresh, many people are still worried about the next steps.
“Many are happy that the power was overthrown but most are worried about next steps,” Mr Doumbia told PREMIUM TIMES.