West African leaders to hold summit on Mali

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will meet today in a virtual extraordinary summit to discuss the deepening

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Photo: REUTERS/Matthiew Rosier

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will meet today in a virtual extraordinary summit to discuss the deepening political crisis facing Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

In Mali, which has been afflicted by armed conflict and insurgency since 2012, the recent standoff between Keïta’s government forces and protesters led by Mahmoud Dicko’s June 5 Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP) has boosted domestic insecurity. The protests—prompted by economic woes, corruption, the growing threat of jihadi insurgency and recently disputed poll results—have intensified since their inception in early June, despite a state crackdown.

Mali’s insurgency has previously spilled over to neighbouring countries and eroded regional security in the Sahel. As such, ECOWAS—in tandem with organisations like the UN—is actively involved in peacemaking operations. The community’s recent attempts to negotiate with the opposition failed after M5-RFP rejected its proposal, which would have forced the Malian Constitutional Court to re-evaluate election results and required Keïta to include opposition members in a coalition government.

While Keïta has agreed to the proposal and additional concessions, the opposition has accused ECOWAS of supporting the incumbent and has cited his resignation and a transitional government as prerequisites to future negotiations. However, ECOWAS is firm in its rejection of demands for Keïta’s resignation, as a political vacuum could exacerbate domestic chaos. Expect ECOWAS to pressure Keïta into a rapid realisation of his promises to the opposition, in the hopes of persuading M5-RFP to accept the proposal.

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