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West African leaders meet to discuss Mali double coup

Supporters of Malian Armed Forces gather at Independence Square in Bamako on May 28, 2021 to celebrate the recent coup led by the vice president of the transitional government Assimi Goita. Regional l
Supporters of Malian Armed Forces gather at Independence Square in Bamako on May 28, 2021 to celebrate the recent coup led by the vice president of the transitional government Assimi Goita. Regional leaders were due to meet on Sunday to discuss the situation. (Photo: AFP)
ACCRA — West African leaders were due to meet in Ghana on Sunday to discuss a response to Mali’s second coup in nine months, which has sparked warnings of fresh sanctions and deep concerns over stability in the volatile Sahel region. اضافة اعلان
 
Mali’s new president Colonel Assimi Goita arrived in Accra on Saturday for preliminary talks ahead of the extraordinary summit of regional bloc ECOWAS, which was due to start at 1400 GMT.

Presidents Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso’s Marc Christian Kabore were among those attending the summit, which came as another deadly attack underscored Mali’s chronic instability. 

Goita led the young army officers who overthrew Mali’s elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August over perceived corruption and his failure to quell a bloody militant insurgency.

After the takeover, the military agreed to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister under pressure from ECOWAS, which has served as a mediator.

But on Monday, soldiers detained transitional president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane, releasing them on Thursday while saying that they had resigned.

The twin arrests triggered a diplomatic uproar and marked Mali’s second apparent coup within a year.

Mali’s constitutional court completed Goita’s rise to full power on Friday by naming him transitional president.

With the junta going back on its previous commitment to civilian political leaders, doubts have been raised about its other pledges, including holding elections in early 2022.

The junta said this week it would continue to respect that timetable, but added that it could be subject to change.

Five dead in fresh attack 

Mali’s presidency said on its Facebook page that Goita would hold one-on-one talks with Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra “as well as bilateral meetings with partners and friends of Mali.”

ECOWAS issued sanctions against Mali after the August coup before lifting them when the transitional government was put in place.

The 15-nation bloc has warned of reimposing sanctions on the country, as has the United States and former colonial power France.

French leader Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper published Sunday that Paris “could not stay by the side of a country where there is no longer democratic legitimacy or a transition.”

And he warned that France would pull its troops out of Mali if it lurches towards radical Islamism under Goita’s leadership. 

France has around 5,100 troops in the region under operation Barkhane, which spans five countries in the Sahel — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. 

Four civilians and a police officer were killed Sunday by suspected militants in southern Mali, a region that has previously been mostly spared from the country’s Islamist unrest, a security official said on condition of anonymity.

The unidentified men attacked a checkpoint near the town of Bougouni, around 100km from Mali’s borders with Ivory Coast and Guinea between 3:30am (0330 GMT) and 4:00am, the official said. A local lawmaker confirmed the attack.

Mali is regularly ranked among the world’s poorest countries, and the previous ECOWAS sanctions were felt hard by the country.

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