Man Accused Of Trying To Kill Mali President Dies In Custody

Security personnel watch an alleged attacker (C) as he lies in the back of a vehicle at The Grand Fayçal Mosque in Bamako on July 20, 2021, after two assailants attempted to stab Mali’s interim transitional President Colonel Assimi Goita during Eid al-Adha prayers at the mosque in the Malian capital. 
EMMANUEL DAOU / AFP

 

A man accused of trying to kill Mali’s military strongman Assimi Goita, the figure behind two coups in less than a year, has died in custody, the government said on Sunday.

The suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, had been taken into custody following the assassination attempt at Bamako’s Grand Mosque on Tuesday.

“During investigations… his health deteriorated” and he was then hospitalised, but “unfortunately, he has died,” the government said in a statement.

It added that an autopsy had been immediately ordered to determine the cause of death.

A man armed with a knife lunged at Goita after prayers for Eid al-Adha on Tuesday, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Goita was whisked away by his security detail and later appeared on state TV to say he was doing “very well”, downplaying the significance of the assault.

“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents,” he said.

“There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability.”

His attacker, a young-looking man dressed in jeans and a white shirt, was apprehended at the scene and taken away by the Malian intelligence services.

The suspect was never presented to judicial authorities, a source requesting anonymity told AFP on Sunday.

His identity was not revealed, but commissioner Sadio Tomoda said late Tuesday that he was a teacher, without elaborating.

Prosecutors had opened an inquiry into the incident.

On Sunday, the government said the suspect’s death was not an obstacle to continuing the investigation, “especially since preliminary evidence and intelligence gathered indicate that he was not an isolated element”.

 Political instability

 

Security personnel escort an alleged attacker (C) from The Grand Fayçal Mosque in Bamako on July 20, 2021, after two assailants attempted to stab Mali’s interim transitional President Colonel Assimi Goita during Eid al-Adha prayers at the mosque in the Malian capital.

 

 

The attack capped months of political turmoil in a country that has rarely enjoyed stability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Goita, a special forces colonel in his late thirties, headed a putsch last August that ousted elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of protests over graft and a bloody jihadist insurgency.

The junta, in the face of international condemnation, handed power to a civilian-led transitional government that promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022.

But in late May, Goita, who was vice president in the transitional government, ousted president Bah Ndaw and premier Moctar Ouane, saying they had sought to “sabotage” the handover.

In June, with Goita as interim president, a new government was unveiled, with military figures in key roles.

As the African Union and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS piled on the pressure, Goita vowed the government would uphold all commitments and pledged to stage “credible, fair and transparent elections”.

Mali’s neighbours and allies have been viewing the crisis with disquiet, fearing the impact on efforts to stem a jihadist insurgency that is unfurling across the Sahel region.

The bloody campaign erupted in the north of Mali in 2012 and has since spread to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

France, the mainstay of the anti-jihadist operation, has been especially critical of the military takeover in Mali.

It suspended military cooperation after the second coup and then announced a major drawdown of its 5,100-man Barkhane mission

-AFP

Mali Interim President Doing ‘Very Well’ After Stabbing Attack

Security personnel escort an alleged attacker (C) from The Grand Fayçal Mosque in Bamako on July 20, 2021, after two assailants attempted to stab Mali’s interim transitional President Colonel Assimi Goita during Eid al-Adha prayers at the mosque in the Malian capital.

 

Mali’s interim leader Colonel Assimi Goita announced on national television that he is doing “very well” following an attempt on his life in the capital Bamako on Tuesday.

“That’s part of being a leader, there are always malcontents,” he said in a statement broadcast on state channel ORTM. “There are people who at any time may want to try things to cause instability”.

More to follow . . . .

UPDATED: One Arrested In Stabbing Attempt On Mali Interim President

 

FILES) In this file photo taken on August 19, 2020 Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). 
MALIK KONATE / AFP

 

 

Two armed men, including one who wielded a knife, attacked Mali’s interim president Assimi Goita on Tuesday, an AFP journalist saw, during prayers in the great mosque in the capital Bamako.

The attack took place during festivities for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha. The president has since been taken from the scene, according to the journalist.

Religious Affairs Minister Mamadou Kone told AFP that a man had “tried to kill the president with a knife” but was apprehended.

Latus Toure, the director of the Great Mosque, said an attacker had lunged for the president but wounded someone else.

AFP was not immediately able to confirm the accounts.

Mali has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency that first emerged in the north of the country in 2012, and has since spread to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

The conflict has also been mirrored by political instability in the capital.

Colonel Goita led a coup last August, ousting elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after weeks of mass protests over corruption and the long-running jihadist conflict.

In May, he ousted a transitional government that had been entrusted with the task of leading the country back to civilian rule in February 2022.

He was then named transitional president, but has pledged to keep to the goal for returning to civilian government.

Last Of Five Catholic Hostages Freed In Mali

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.

 

 

A Malian priest — the last of a group of five Catholics kidnapped in mid-June — has been freed, church and government sources said Wednesday.

Armed men took the five people hostage in the centre of Mali on June 21 after they left Segue to attend the funeral of another priest in the area, where there is a large Catholic community.

Four of them were freed two days later, including Segue village chief Thimothe Somboro, vice mayor Pascal Somboro and two other Catholics.

Leon Douyon, a priest in the Segue parish, continued to be held until now.

Kizito Togo, an official of the Mopti parish, confirmed that Douyon had been let go.

“Our brother, Abbey Leon, is free. He has got back to his family, safe and sound,” he told AFP.

Governor of the Mopti region Abass Dembele confirmed Douyon’s release, saying he had “gone back to his village.”

Mali has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency that first emerged in the north of the country in 2012, and which has since spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Kidnappings, once rare, have become more common in recent years as a security crisis has deepened in Mali, particularly in the centre of the former French colony.

But the abduction of five Catholics stands out in the Muslim-majority country. According to the archdiocese, about 4 percent of Mali’s population is Christian.

In early April a French journalist was kidnapped by jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda in northern Mali.

A Franciscan nun from Colombia, sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, was kidnapped by jihadists in Mali in 2017 and is still considered held hostage.

Her brother Edgar Narvaez told AFP on Sunday that he had received a letter in her handwriting via the Red Cross that proved she is still alive.

6 Troops Killed, 15 UN Peacekeepers Wounded In Separate Mali Attacks

In this file photo taken on September 8, 2008, an Argentinian peacekeeper stands as a helicopter takes off from the flooded city of Gonaives some 200 kilometres north of Port-au-Prince. The UN Security Council ended 15 years of peacekeeping operations in Haiti on October 15, 2019, voicing regret that the country is still saddled with huge economic, political and social woes. The UN first sent peacekeepers to Haiti after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was

 

 

Six Malian soldiers were killed on Friday in a raid in the centre of the war-torn Sahel state, in a violent day that also saw 15 United Nations peacekeepers wounded in a car-bomb attack further north. 

The UN said on Twitter that an evacuation was under way after a car bomb struck a temporary base near Tarkint, in the lawless north of Mali.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said 12 of the peacekeepers were German and that three were seriously injured.

Two of the three were in a stable condition, she said in a statement, while one has undergone surgery. All of the wounded have been evacuated by helicopter, Kramp-Karrenbauer added.

One Belgian soldier was also injured in the attack, according to a Belgian defence ministry statement.

About 13,000 troops from several nations are deployed in the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission across the vast semi-arid country.

Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2012 and which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed the centre of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

A security official, who declined to be identified, told AFP that the MINUSMA forward operating base attacked on Friday was only set up the previous day, after a land mine damaged a UN vehicle in the area.

The peacekeepers set up the base in order to remove the damaged vehicle, the security official said.

Separately on Friday, militants also attacked a Malian military outpost in the village of Boni in the centre of the country, killing six soldiers and injuring another.

Mali’s army stated on Twitter that the troops had “vigorously responded” to “simultaneous attacks” launched in Boni in the afternoon.

Ten Malian soldiers had been killed in a similar ambush in Boni in February.

Central Mali — which is the epicentre of the conflict in the Sahel — also saw six French soldiers and four civilians wounded on Monday when a car bomb detonated near a French armoured car.

Former colonial power France, which intervened in Mali in 2013 to beat back the jihadists, currently has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel region.

But French President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this month that he would wind down the Barkhane force.

France plans to refocus its energies on strengthening an international task force of special forces in Mali, known as Takuba.

Several hundred people gathered in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday to demand the departure of French forces from the country, an AFP journalist reported.

Church Says Kidnapped Malian Catholics Released

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.

 

 

An abbot and several Catholic laypeople kidnapped in central Mali by armed men have been released, a senior Church official said Wednesday.

The group disappeared on Monday while travelling from the mostly Catholic area of Segue in the central Mali to the funeral of another abbot in the town of San.

Those taken included Abbot Leon Douyon, the chief and deputy mayor of Segue village and two other local residents.

They were released after one of the kidnappers made contact with a young person from Segue, said Cleophas Tienou, a senior Church official from the town of Mopti.

“They’re doing well but the attackers kept their car,” he added.

Kidnappings are common in Mali, which has been struggling to quell a brutal jihadist insurgency which first emerged  in 2012 and has since spilled over into Burkina Faso and Niger.

Central Mali is a particular hotspot for jihadist, inter-ethnic or financially-motivated violence that afflicts the wider Sahel region.

But it is rare for Catholics — a minority of around four percent in the majority-Muslim nation of 19 million — to be kidnapped.

It remains unclear who took the people on Monday and why, although the area is known for jihadist kidnappings.

French journalist Olivier Dubois, abducted in April, is believed to be in the hands of the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the biggest jihadist alliance in the Sahel.

In Mali Women’s Prison, Inmates Face A Long Wait

A detainee carries her baby in the Bolle re-education and rehabilitation detention centre for women in Bamako on May 21, 2021. – Bolle is one of the only female prisons in the semi-arid Sahel, a poor African region which has been plagued by a brutal jihadist conflict since 2012.
Standards are far higher than other in prisons in Mali. (Photo by Michele Cattani / AFP)

 

 

Laughing children, yoga classes, job-training sessions: Mali’s only women’s prison is a far cry from the squalid, overcrowded jails found elsewhere in the war-torn Sahel.

Once past the rusty doors and ochre-coloured walls of the Bolle penitentiary in the capital Bamako, there is little indication that this is a prison at all.

Women pound millet as their children play around a slide in the nursery.

A long-time prisoner who gave her name as Mariam told AFP that there is a strong sense of solidarity among the 144 inmates.

“We stick together,” said Mariam, adding that new arrivals are welcomed.

Bolle is one of the only women’s prisons in Africa’s Sahel region, which has been plagued by a brutal jihadist conflict since 2012.

 

A hairdresser detainee tends to another detainee in the Bolle re-education and rehabilitation detention centre for women in Bamako on May 21, 2021. (Photo by Michele Cattani / AFP)

 

Standards are far higher than other in prisons in Mali, where male criminals and jihadists are crammed into dark and filthy cells.

“We don’t consider Bolle a detention centre,” said Babou Togora, an official from Mali’s prison service.

The penitentiary is similar to others in the Sahel in some respects, however.

 

Detainees are seen working on soap production in the Bolle re-education and rehabilitation detention centre for women in Bamako on May 21, 2021.  (Photo by Michele Cattani / AFP)

 

– Delays –
Most of the inmates are yet to stand trial because of lengthy delays in the former French colony’s under-resourced legal system.

A Nigerian woman in the courtyard, who declined to be named, said she has been imprisoned for 19 months, awaiting trial.

“That’s how it is here,” she said, in heavily accented French, with a smile.

About two-thirds of the women are in a similar position, according to prison authorities.

Nineteen of the inmates hail from surrounding Sahel countries, with some coming from as far away as Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Founded in 1999, Bolle has its origins in the turmoil triggered by Mali’s 1991 coup d’etat.

During the putsch, male prisoners reportedly preyed upon female inmates.

 

A detainee carries her baby in the Bolle re-education and rehabilitation detention centre for women in Bamako on May 21, 2021.  (Photo by Michele Cattani / AFP)

 

The central prison in Bamako was one facility where men “took advantage of the revolution to abuse the female inmates,” according to Inspector Gabriel Flazan Sidibe, Bolle’s deputy warden.

Other prisons in Mali still contain women’s sections. But Sidibe said “we are doing everything to group them” at Bolle.

– ‘To err is human’ –
Bolle’s inmates are detained on charges of everything from infanticide to assault and involvement in the drug trade.

One prisoner, who was released a few months ago, had been detained on terrorism charges.

Many inmates are put behind bars up along with their children, who are innocent of any crime.

Binta, a woman in her twenties convicted of fraud two years ago, is locked up with her young son Nabil.

She said the boy’s father comes to the prison several times a week to take him for car rides around the city, but that Nabil cries when he has to return to jail.

 

A detainee tries on a dress in the sewing atelier of the Bolle re-education and rehabilitation detention centre for women in Bamako on May 21, 2021. (Photo by Michele Cattani / AFP)

 

Moussa Bagayoko, from a local NGO that aids the imprisoned children, said that “they didn’t do anything to end up here — it’s their mothers who did something wrong.”

He added that the foreign funding on which Bolle relies is becoming increasingly rare.

Mariam, who is serving a 20-year sentence for killing one of her husband’s other wives, said that “we need a presidential pardon”.

“To err is human,” she added. “No one is perfect in life.”

Mali’s Assimi Goita To Be Sworn In As Interim President

In this file photo taken on August 19, 2020 Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP
In this file photo taken on August 19, 2020 Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

 

Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goita, following his second coup in nine months, will be sworn into office Monday as transitional president despite international condemnation of the power grab.

And while Goita is not known for being a great talker, the 37-year-old officer’s investiture speech will be closely followed, said one diplomat in the capital Bamako.

“It will be the moment for him to reassure and to solemnly make clear commitments on how the remaining eight months of the transition will go,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be identified.

Following international pressure, the government installed after Goita’s first coup last August pledged to reform the constitution by October, and stage elections in February next year.

Now that Goita has brushed aside this first transitional administration to seize power again, Western diplomats will be listening carefully for confirmation that this is still the timetable in a country whose stability is crucial for the wider region.

The ambassadors themselves will stay away from the investiture ceremony, the diplomat said.

Instead, they will send more junior envoys to the event.

While that will be “neither a boycott not a sanction”, it will send “a political signal”, the diplomat added.

The ceremony will take place at the International Conference Centre in Bamako at 10 am (1000 GMT).

Mali is key to the stability of the Sahel region, and Western powers want to see a return to stable, civilian rule as soon as possible. For the moment, however, Goita and his fellow colonels are in charge.

Goita dismissed the civilian president and prime minister of the transitional administration on May 24, leading former colonial power France to suspend its cooperation with the military — and for the African Union to suspend Mali’s membership.

– Maiga in frame –

Leader of the coalition M5-RFP (Mouvement du 5 Juin-Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques) Choguel Kokalla Maiga (C) speaks to the press as the coalition proposed his candidature to the premature after that colonel Assimi Goita led a coup to overthrow the government.
Michele Cattani / AFP

 

France and Mali’s other partners want assurances that a civilian administration will be back in power come February 2022.

Goita is expected to nominate as his prime minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga, a former minister and member of the M5 protest movement which helped to force out former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August following mass protests over perceived corruption and a bloody jihadist insurgency.

M5 became sidelined in the army-dominated post-coup administration, dubbing the transitional government a “disguised military regime”.

But there has been a noticeable rapprochement between the group and the army since the May 24 coup.

Maiga, 63, insisted Friday that his country would abide by its international obligations, and he also paid homage to French troops who have died in the country.

Maintaining its international partnerships, not least with France, is crucial for Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries and whose security forces are thinly resourced.

Violence remains all too prevalent in the country which on Thursday saw 11 Tuareg killed by as yet unidentified assailants near Menaka in the northeast — only the latest among thousands of victims in intercommunal and jihadist violence which has displaced around one million people.

The extent to which the region as a whole faces uncertainty was underscored when presumed Islamist radicals killed at least 160 people in neighbouring Burkina Faso’s northeast on Friday night in the worst attack the country has seen.

In a message Sunday to Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Goita said he “strongly condemned this cowardly and hateful attack.”

As Goita prepares to cement his position in Mali, constitutional expert Mamady Sissoko said his investiture could hardly be regarded as legal.

“We are faced by a show of force and this (taking the oath of office) should not be,” Sissoko said.

-AFP

ECOWAS Suspends Mali Over Second Coup In Nine Months

President of Ghana and Chair of the ECOWAS Nana Akufo-Addo (C), addresses dignitaries at the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on the situation in Mali in Accra on May 30, 2021. West African leaders met in Ghana today 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

 

West African leaders suspended Mali from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at an extraordinary summit Sunday, but stopped short of reimposing sanctions, after a second military coup in nine months.

The putsch had sparked deep concerns over stability in the volatile Sahel region and warnings of fresh economic penalties.

Ten regional heads of state and three foreign ministers attended the summit in the Ghanaian capital Accra, with former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan serving as a mediator in the crisis.

“The suspension from ECOWAS takes immediate effect until the deadline of the end of February 2022 when they are supposed to hand over to a democratically elected government,” Ghana’s Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said after the meeting.

The final declaration called for the immediate appointment of a new civilian prime minister and the formation of an “inclusive” government.

In a statement, ECOWAS also reiterated that “the head of the transition, the vice-president and the prime minister of the transition must under no circumstances be a candidate for the future presidential election”.

Mali’s new president Colonel Assimi Goita — who was the nation’s vice-president until Friday — had arrived in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Saturday for preliminary talks.

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 jihadist insurgency.

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

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 a promise to hold 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.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 20, 2021 Malian Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and his delegation attend the inauguration of the new river port of Konna in central Mali. Mali’s transitional President Bah Ndaw and Malian Prime Minister Moctar Ouane have resigned after the military arrested them on May 24, 2021.
MICHELE CATTANI / AFP

 Five dead in fresh attack

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

The 15-nation bloc had warned of reimposing sanctions on the country, as have 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 the country lurches towards radical Islamism under Goita’s leadership.

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

Also, Sunday, underscoring Mali’s chronic instability, suspected jihadists killed four civilians and a police officer 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 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Mali’s borders with Ivory Coast and Guinea, before dawn, the official said. A local lawmaker confirmed the attack.

Mali is among the world’s poorest countries, and the previous ECOWAS sanctions hit hard.

-AFP

France Threatens To Pull Troops Out Of Mali

France To Extend Lockdown As Virus Deaths Soar In Europe, US
File: Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

President Emmanuel Macron warned in comments published Sunday that France will pull its troops out of Mali if it lurches towards radical Islamism following the second coup in nine months.

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

The mission, headquartered in Chad, was launched after France intervened to fend off a jihadist advance in Mali in 2013.

On Tuesday France and the European Union denounced an “unacceptable coup d’etat” after Mali’s interim president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane were detained and stripped of their powers in what is being seen as the country’s second coup in less than a year.

Macron said he had told Ndaw that France will withdraw its troops if Mali turns towards radical Islamism.

“Radical Islamism in Mali with our soldiers there? Never,” he told the weekly newspaper The Journal du Dimanche.

“There is this temptation today in Mali. But if it goes in that direction, I will withdraw,” he warned in comments made during a trip to Rwanda and South Africa. Macron flew home to Paris on Saturday.

The French president added that he had given a message to West African leaders that they could not back a country “where there is no longer democratic legitimacy or transition.”

READ ALSO: Nearly 300 Rescued In Indonesia Ferry Accident

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has invited Mali’s junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita to Ghana’s capital Accra for “consultations” ahead of an extraordinary summit on Sunday devoted to Mali.

Goita flew to Accra on Saturday, military and airport sources said.

He had served as vice president since leading a coup last August that ousted the democratically elected president, with the roles of president and prime minister held by civilians after pressure from ECOWAS, which has served as a mediator.

However, the transitional leaders were detained Monday before being released on Thursday, with the military saying they had resigned.

The twin arrests triggered a diplomatic uproar and marked the second apparent coup within a year in the Sahel country.

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.

Macron, in his comments published Sunday, warned that if Africa’s development fails then Europe “will pay dearly in terms of migration”.

He stressed the need to “invest massively” adding that the international community must also erase some of the continent’s debt burden “to help Africans build their future.”

AFP

Mali’s New President Heads To ECOWAS Over Double Coup

 In this file photo taken on August 19, 2020 Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP).  ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP
In this file photo taken on August 19, 2020 Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

 

Mali’s junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita left the capital Bamako Saturday, his first full day as president, headed for Ghana where West African leaders will decide on a response to the country’s second coup in nine months.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) invited Goita to come to Ghana’s capital Accra for “consultations” ahead of an extraordinary summit on Sunday devoted to Mali, according to letter from the 15-nation bloc seen by AFP.

He flew to Accra on Saturday, military and airport sources said.

Goita had served as vice president since leading a coup last August that ousted the democratically elected president, with the roles of president and prime minister held by civilians after pressure from ECOWAS, which has served as a mediator.

However 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 the second apparent coup within a year in the Sahel country.

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 2020.

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

The constitutional court said Goita would “exercise the functions of transitional president to lead the transition process to its conclusion”.

Sanctions threat

ECOWAS, which issued sanctions against Mali after the August coup before lifting them when the transitional government was put in place, will meet from 2:00 pm (1400 GMT) in Accra on Sunday.

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

Ndaw and Ouane’s detention came hours after a government reshuffle that would have replaced the defence and security ministers, both of whom were army officers involved in the August putsch.

On Friday, Goita said the army had had little choice but to intervene.

“We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defence and security forces and we chose cohesion,” he said.

Goita added that he wants to name a prime minister from the opposition M5 movement within days.

M5 spearheaded protests against former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in 2020 that built up pressure ahead of his ouster, but it was excluded from key posts in the army-dominated post-coup administration.

A rapprochement with the group might serve to soften domestic and foreign criticism of the military.

In Mali, regularly ranked among the world’s poorest countries, the previous ECOWAS sanctions were felt hard by a country reeling from numerous crises, including a grinding jihadist insurgency.

 

AFP

Buhari To Visit Ghana Over Mali Crisis

FILE: President Muhammadu Buhari climbs the stairs of the Presidential Jet as he embarks on a medical trip to the United Kingdom on March 30, 2021.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja on Sunday for Accra, Ghana to attend an emergency Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS, convened to discuss the recent political developments in Mali.

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, announced the visit on Saturday via a statement.

The President is expected back in the country “at the end of the one-day Summit.”

According to Mr Adesina, the meeting is at the instance of the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo.

Prior to the Extraordinary Summit, the President had met with the Special Envoy and ECOWAS mediator in Mali, former President Goodluck Jonathan, who briefed him on the latest developments in the country following his meeting with key political actors in the West African country.

“As the situation in Mali continues to evolve, Nigeria had condemned the May 24 military coup, the subsequent detention of the president and prime minister by soldiers, and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilian officials detained,” the statement added.

“President Buhari will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo, and Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.”