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Is it possible to reach an agreement with ECOWAS on future elections?

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An extraordinary summit of ECOWAS heads of state opens this Saturday in Ghana’s capital, Accra, under the rotating presidency of the Economic Community of West African States. This summit will be immediately followed – on the same day, at the same venue – by a meeting of heads of state of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, Uwemoa. At the heart of the discussion: transitions have begun in three countries that recently faced military coups: Guinea, Burkina and above all Mali, which hopes, during this summit, to lift the sanctions that have affected the country since the beginning of January. . For this, a compromise should be reached regarding holding elections in the future to restore constitutional order.

Under the leadership of the military junta, the current interim president, Colonel Dr Asimi Goita, assumed power in August 2020, a year and nine months ago. The challenge for this summit is to know when this power will return to the Malians. After pulling out of holding presidential and legislative elections last February, as they had initially promised, Bamako authorities initially proposed extending the transfer for another five years.

As the proposal was considered provocative by neighboring ECOWAS countries, Bamako eventually offered an extension of four, then finally two more years. For Interim Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, for all the support of the current authorities, it cannot go any lower. ECOWAS is asking for a return to constitutional order within sixteen months.

An ECOWAS run by France?

Drisa Meminta is the spokesperson for Yereolo-Débout sur les Remparts, a political organization close to the transitional authorities. He believes, and this is Bamako’s official discourse, that ECOWAS is externally driven. ” ECOWAS has decided to serve interests other than those of its community, he thinks, And the only country that said it was going to isolate Malik today, This is France. The issue wants to bring everything back to elections, whereas in Mali, there are real issues that need time to be resolved. In ECOWAS, some heads of state have realized this. We will work to ensure that those who do not understand this, who want to serve the interests of others, return to feeling better… or leave like others. »

This is not the case for Yereolo, many pro-junta organizations even want Malik to withdraw from ECOWAS. There have been repeated deaths in recent months in protests organized in support of the authorities.

Bamako’s stand against the ECOWAS ban has come up

But Bamako is facing a dilemma. The authorities present their stay in power as a defense of national sovereignty and the imperative need to carry out certain reforms before holding elections. But this insistence comes up against a certain reality: ECOWAS imposed economic and financial sanctions in early January to force Bamako to hold elections. These sanctions penalize Malian households and, even more, public finances Despite the reactionary measures introduced by Bamako to avoid these sanctions and the official discourse according to which the consequences of these sanctions were minimal, the Malian authorities no longer hide their efforts to get out of this situation and get a quick lift. penalty

Sociologist Ali Tunkara is a teacher-researcher at the University of Bamako and director of the Center for Security and Strategic Studies in the Sahel. “ Lifting this ban appears to be an absolute necessity for the Malian authorities. Ask the researcher, it should not be obscured. Authorities cornered by emergency: Access to customs services has been severely affected, and authorities are still struggling to make ends meet. All development projects, change initiatives, are now on hold, as all efforts are focused on payment of salaries and military action. »

16 month contract? 18 months?

In addition, several sources at the center of the negotiations confirm that the Malian interim authorities are finally ready to revise their ambitions downwards and do not hide their optimism that a compromise can be found: sixteen additional months, eighteen months, figures published…

But the duration is not the only element of the negotiations: Bamako wants to lift the sanctions immediately, while ECOWAS considers it possible to lift the sanctions only gradually from the day of their introduction, which will depend on the progress of the electoral preparations. .

The establishment of a so-called “mission” government, which would devote itself exclusively to these preparations, and which could be more open to the Malian political class, is also on the table.

Include political parties

Hosseini Amion Guindo is president of the Cadre that unites Mali’s opposition political parties. A former minister, president of the Codem party and the new Hope-Zigia Kura movement, he did not advance the reasonable duration of the transition extension. “ The sooner we get out of this exceptional period, the better for Malishe asks simply. Today, what our authorities and ECOWAS are seeking is inclusion. When we talk about reconciliation, when we talk about consensus, we must involve the political class and the Malian civil society. We hope that the rest of the transition period will be peaceful, and that people will talk to each other, here in Mali! »

ECOWAS may ultimately require some guarantees during certain legal proceedings respecting individual freedoms – opinion, expression – and even the law.

For weeks, diplomatic initiatives have intensified, to complement the painstaking efforts of the government mediator, Nigerian Goodluck Jonathan. An envoy from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has been visiting the sub-region since late April. its president Togo, at the request of Bamako, appealed the cause of the Malian Transitional Authority to the heads of state of the sub-region. Niger and Côte d’Ivoire are the countries whose lines are the hardest, according to diplomatic sources. We will know tomorrow if these initiatives have been fruitful.


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