West African leaders meet in Ghana on Sunday to decide the thorny question of their response to the double coup by the Malian military, Colonel Assimi Goïta, now officially president of Mali, also being invited to Accra.
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.
ECOWAS invited Colonel Goïta to come to Accra on Saturday for “consultations”, indicates a letter from the organization consulted by AFP. According to the presidency of Mali, he is off to Ghana on Saturday and will take part in the summit on Sunday.
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”.
The Malian Constitutional Court declared on Friday Colonel Goïta the country’s transitional president, completing the coup launched on Monday against those who were between him and the leadership of this country, plunged into turmoil but crucial for the stability of the Sahel in the face of jihadist spread.
The Constitutional Court thus formalized a fait accompli that Mali’s partners had tried to oppose after the August 2020 coup.
Assimi Goïta and a group of colonels then overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta after months of popular protest. The junta had had to accept the appointment of a civilian president and prime minister under international pressure. She pledged to hold elections and hand power back to civilians after an 18-month transition.
The junta, however, had carved out a tailor-made vice-presidency for Assimi Goïta, invested with essential security responsibilities. The colonels had appointed theirs to key positions.
On Monday, the former special forces battalion commander arrested the president and the prime minister, civil guarantors of the transition. The initial version of an authoritarian impeachment officially became a resignation.
The commitment to a civil transition is trampled underfoot, raising doubts on others, starting with the holding of elections in early 2022. The junta has said in recent days that it intends to respect the timetable, but added that ‘he could be subject to contingencies.
The Constitutional Court writes that Colonel Goïta will chair the transition until the end.
France threatens to withdraw
President Macron told the Journal du dimanche to have “sent the message” to the leaders of West Africa that he “would not stay with a country where there is no longer democratic legitimacy or transition “. Paris denounced Tuesday an “unacceptable coup” in Mali.
“To Malian President Bah N’Daw, who was very rigorous about the seal between power and jihadists, I said: + Radical Islamism in Mali with our soldiers there? Never in life! + There is Today has this temptation in Mali. But if it goes in that direction, I would withdraw, “warned Mr. Macron.
Colonel Goïta “exercises the functions, attributes and prerogatives of president of the transition to lead the transition process to its end”, and he will carry “the title of president of the transition, head of state”, says the Constitutional Court .
On Friday, in an apparent effort to mobilize domestic support, Colonel Goïta said he intended to appoint “in the days to come” a Prime Minister from a collective which in 2020 had led months of protest against the former president Keïta but that the colonels, once the head of state was overthrown, had taken care to leave on the sidelines of the transition.
Even with such a prime minister, the appointment of Assimi Goïta challenges Mali’s neighbors and partners to respond.
The ECOWAS had co-drafted with the African Union, the UN mission in Mali (Minusma), France, the United States and others a statement rejecting “in advance any act imposed by coercion, including forced resignations “.
An ECOWAS mission dispatched during the week to Mali raised the possibility of sanctions. France and the United States, militarily engaged in the Sahel, brandished the threat.
Firmness or gentleness
“The political transition will be led by a civilian” and “the vice-president of the transition (…) can in no way replace the president of the transition,” West African leaders said in a meeting with the junta on September 15, 2020 after the first coup.
ECOWAS had 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.
It had lifted the sanctions, badly felt by a population suffering in a bloodless country, when the junta appeared to bend to its demands.