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Despite assurances by coup leaders, ECOWAS rejects army takeover in Mali

army takeover in Mali

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has insisted that the toppling of a democratically elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in Mali by the army was unacceptable despite assurances by the coup leaders that elections would be held in the country within ‘reasonable’ time.

A source within the ECOWAS Commission, who wished to remain anonymous, told BusinessDay on Wednesday that the sub-regional organisation insists on the restoration of the democratic order in the country, even as Keita has allegedly been compelled to announce his resignation and that of his cabinet members.

Earlier in a communiqué on Wednesday, ECOWAS suspended Mali from all its decision-making bodies with immediate effect, as per the Additional Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, until effective reinstatement of a constitutional order.

The regional body has also decided to close all land and air borders, as well as stopped all economical, trade and financial flows and transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Mali, and encouraged all partners to do the same.

Colonel-Major Ismael Wague, spokesman for the coup-makers, said the coup leaders who styled themselves ‘National Committee for the Salvation of the People’ insisted they acted to prevent Mali from falling further into chaos, despite the international condemnation that trailed the coup.

“The social and political tension has undermined the proper functioning of the country for quite a while,” Wague, flanked by soldiers, said on Wednesday.

“Mali descends into chaos day by day [with] anarchy and insecurity because of the fault of the people in charge of its destiny. Real democracy doesn’t go with complacency, nor weakness of the state authority, which must guarantee freedom and security of the people,” he added.

Following its statement published on August 18, 2020 reporting on the mutiny within the Malian Armed Forces, ECOWAS has noted with great concern the seizure of power by Malian military putschists. It said this seizure of power came at a difficult socio-political context.

“Indeed, ECOWAS recalls that a mediation process has been on-going during the last two months, with a view to find a solution to this crisis,” it said, adding that this power grab by Malian military putschists is likely to have a negative impact on peace and stability in Mali and in the subregion.

ECOWAS, therefore, condemned the overthrow of President Kéita’s democratically elected government, categorically denied any kind of legitimacy to the putschists, and demanded the immediate reinstatement of the constitutional order.

The sub-regional body also demanded the safety and security of President Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita and arrested officials who are allegedly held in detention and demanded their immediate release.

ECOWAS has also announced immediate activation of the ECOWAS Standby Force and demanded the immediate implementation of sanctions against all putschists and their partners and collaborators.