West African leaders will meet in Ghana on Sunday to decide the thorny question of their response to the double coup by the Malian military, Colonel Assimi Goïta, who is now officially the country’s leader and has been invited to the summit.
The heads of state and government of the West African Community of States (ECOWAS) meet from 2:00 p.m. (local and GMT) in the Ghanaian capital for an extraordinary summit exclusively devoted to Mali.
It comes after Mali’s second coup in nine months on Monday, led by Colonel Assimi Goïta, who on Friday was named as the transitional president by Mali’s constitutional court.
ECOWAS invited Goïta to Accra on Saturday for “consultations”, a letter from the bloc seen by AFP said.
The new leader said on Friday his appointment was for security reasons during a meeting with the Malian political class.
“In choosing between disorder and cohesion in the defence forces and security, we have chosen cohesion in the defence forces and security because it is in the nation’s best interests,” Goïta said on Friday.
On Monday President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, were detained by soldiers along with other leaders of the transitional government, hours after naming a new Cabinet that did not include two key military leaders.
On Thursday, they both resigned and were released. Their arrest led to an international uproar.
The 15-nation bloc has also warned of reimposing sanctions on the country; as has the United States and former colonial master France.
There are nonetheless fears that sanctions will further destabilise the poverty-stricken nation of 19 million people, which has been battling a brutal jihadist insurgency since 2012.
French President Emmanuel Macron, for his part, warned, in an interview with the Journal du dimanche, that Paris “would not remain alongside a country where there is no longer democratic legitimacy or transition”.
ECOWAS suspended Mali from all its decision-making bodies, closed the borders of its member states and stopped financial and commercial exchanges with Mali, with the exception of basic necessities, after the August 18 coup by the same Malian colonels.
It had lifted the sanctions after the appointment of civilian President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and the commitment by the military to return power to elected civilians after 18 months.
Ndaw and Ouane had led a transitional government tasked with steering the return to civilian rule after a coup last August that toppled Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Keita was forced out by young army officers, led by Goïta, following mass protests over perceived corruption and his failure to quell a bloody jihadist insurgency.
Goïta, who led the junta calling itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, has served as Mali’s vice president in the transitional government formed last September.
He has held that position despite initial calls from the international community for an entirely civilian-led transition.