Why is Mali leaving the G5 Sahel so suddenly when it was its turn to take over from Chad as chair of the organisation from February 2022, according to the standing orders of the rotating presidency.
Mali announced on Sunday evening, May 15, its withdrawal from the G5 Sahel.
This means the pull-out of its anti-jihadist military force in protest over the refusal that was made to Bamako to assume the presidency of this regional organization.
The G5 Sahel groups together Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger and Mali in the joint military campaingn against jihadists active in those countries.
“The government of the Republic of Mali decides to withdraw from all the organs and bodies of the G5 Sahel, including its joint force. This decision will be notified to the member states of the organization, in accordance with the relevant procedure. The government of the Republic of Mali reaffirms its constant commitment to regional integration and cooperation for the achievement of objectives that serve the major interests of the African peoples,” Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization and also Mali’s transitional government spokesman explained in a statement broadcast on national television.
The transitional government emerged from the May putsch last year, the second in nine months after the August ouster of the late former president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK).
To justify Bamako’s decision, the communiqué first denounced the “non-holding in Bamako of the 8th Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State of G5 Sahel member countries” and denounced “statutory meetings of other bodies,” which, according to the same statement, “constitute a violation of a decision taken by the institution but also of the basic texts of the G5 Sahel.”
The Malian government sought to refute “firmly the argument of a member state that puts forward the internal national political situation to oppose the exercise by Mali of the presidency of the G5 Sahel.
According to Bamako, no legal text of the G5 Sahel provides for restrictions against a member state, based on its national political situation.”
For the Malian authorities, “no provision of the texts of this institution provides that it can also endorse sanctions or restrictions imposed by other organizations against a member state. Bamako considers that “the opposition of certain G5 Sahel states to Mali’s presidency is an extra-regional maneuver aimed desperately at isolating Mali.”
Designated in February 2021 to the rotating presidency of the G5 Sahel, Chad’s Mahamat Idriss Deby saw his term of office end a year later.
But he remained in the role overtime thanks to the reluctance of some of his peers, especially Niger’s Mohamed Bazoum, to entrust the reins of the sub-regional organization to Colonel Assimi Goita, whom they suspect was reluctant to hand over power to elected civilian authorities.
According to the rule of the rotating presidency enshrined in the organization’s texts, it was however Mali's turn to succeed Chad as president of the G5 Sahel at a summit to be held in early 2022 in Bamako.
In the end, this proved impossible especially for Niger's democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum who could not countenance going to consort with the putschists in Bamako.
France and the European Union, major contributors to the G5 Sahel budget and whose forces are in the process of withdrawing from Mali following the deterioration of their relations with the junta, would never have approved of such a summit taking place in this now pariah state.
To get around this stumbling block, the Chadian president thought that the 8th G5 Sahel Heads of State Conference could be held by teleconference, which would have made it possible, in particular, to avoid a physical meeting between the head of the transitional government in Mali and the president of Niger.
But the approach would have inevitably led to the handing over of the rotating presidency of the G5 Sahel to Colonel Goita anyway.
Bazoum seems to be the target of the Malian communiqué when it denounces “extra-regional maneuvers desperately seeking to isolate Mali".
This is an allusion to Niamey's proximity to Paris, France and the European Union who would no doubt have disapproved of meeting Goita.