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Col Assimi Goita in Accra, Ghana, September 15 2020. Picture: REUTERS/FRANCIS KOKOROKO
Col Assimi Goita in Accra, Ghana, September 15 2020. Picture: REUTERS/FRANCIS KOKOROKO

Accra  — West African regional bloc the Economic Community of West African States  (Ecowas) has suspended Mali’s membership in response to last week’s coup and said authorities must stick to a timetable for a return to democracy, but stopped short of imposing new sanctions.

Leaders of the 15-member Ecowas held an emergency summit in Ghana’s capital Accra to agree on a response to the Malian military’s removal of a president and prime minister for the second time in nine months.

Mali’s neighbours and international powers fear the latest revolt will jeopardise a commitment to hold a presidential election next February, and undermine a regional fight against Jihadist militants.

In a communiqué after the summit, Ecowas said Mali’s membership was suspended with immediate effect. However, it did not announce sanctions such as those it imposed after the coup in August, which saw members temporarily close their borders with landlocked Mali and halt financial transactions.

It also did not call for new interim President Assimi Goita to step down. The army colonel, who led the coup and last week’s revolt, was declared president on Friday.

Instead, Ecowas said a new civilian prime minister should be nominated and a new inclusive government formed to proceed with the transition programme.

“The date of February 27 2022, already announced for the presidential election, should be absolutely maintained,” the statement said.

There was no immediate response from Goita, who attended the summit.

The 38-year-old special forces commander was one of several colonels who overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

He ordered the arrests last Monday of interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane. Both resigned on Wednesday while still in detention. They were later released.

Ecowas  and Western powers including France and the US worry the political crisis could worsen instability in northern and central Mali, a home base for regional affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State.



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