Can Mali's junta dodge tougher Ecowas sanctions?

APA - Bamako (Mali)

Mali is adopting a policy of appeasement towards the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) which is threatening tougher sanctions against the junta in Bamako over its controversial transition to democracy.

Malian transition leader Assimi Goita has dispatched to his West African peers, the spokesman of the government Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, Foreign Affairs minister Mr. Abdoulaye Diop, and Zeini Moulaye, President of the High Panel of the National Reform Conference (ANR).

This diplomatic rapprochement, which is intended to be inclusive, aims to explain the recommendations of the National Forum on Reform to regional leaders of Ecowas. 

Mali’s delegation has already been to Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana. 

It will make whistle-stop tours in Nigeria to visit with President Muhammadu Buhari and Ghana where an ECOWAS summit is to be held on Sunday.

The conference on reforms recommended extending the transition in Mali from six months to five years and postponing the elections. 

But this decision is being viewed in Ecowas circles with consternation. 

“Five years of a transition for putchists? That’s more than the term of a democratically elected president in Nigeria,” said a member of the West African mediation team in Bamako. 

According to Goodluck Jonathan, the Ecowas mediator in the Malian crisis, the five-year political transition is unacceptable to the regional bloc.

Based on this observation, Malian diplomacy is employing appeasement to avoid head-on confrontation with the bloc. 

“This new timetable already presented to some ECOWAS Heads of State is not a fixed schedule, it is open to a debate,” said Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop. 

“For us, five years is a basis for talks, and we are ready to revise this timeframe downwards,” said an adviser to junta leader Assimi Goita.

While Ecowas leaders are to meet in Accra on Sunday to discuss some regional concerns including the crisis in Mali, the junta in Bamako is keen to use dialogue as a means of reaching a common understanding.

By this it hopes to dodge tougher sanctions being threatened by the regional grouping.


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