Mali to appoint civilian head of state under ECOWAS mandate

Today is the deadline for Mali’s new military government to appoint a civilian head to the transition government. The 15-nation

mali

Photo: Getty Images/ John Kalapo

Today is the deadline for Mali’s new military government to appoint a civilian head to the transition government.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has warned the military government that it must return the country to civilian rule by today. After the August 18 coup, ECOWAS imposed sanctions on the country—closing borders and banning trade—and called on the military government to hold elections within 12 months.

The military government has proposed an 18-month transition government, to be led by either a civilian or military leader. The plan has been rejected by the opposition June 5 Movement (M5-RFP), which called the proposal “anti-democratic” and intimidating.

The volatile situation in Mali could devolve into violence and further political instability. In the likely case that the military government does not heed the demands of ECOWAS, expect a resumption of protests in the short-term. Although M5-RFP backed the original protests that led to the arrest and removal of former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the new military government could potentially turn on the opposition and authorise widespread arrests.

In the medium to long-term, extended political turmoil in Mali could have the additional consequence of undermining international efforts to combat armed Islamist groups within the wider Sahel region.

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