Category Archives: West Africa – Mali

Storyline: Mali gov’t nominates new PM

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Mali’s transitional president appointed former minister of foreign affairs, Moctar Ouane, on Sunday as the West African nation’s prime minister days after being sworn into office.

The appointment of a civilian prime minister was a major condition imposed by the West African regional economic bloc, ECOWAS, on Mali to lift sanctions that were imposed after an Aug. 18 coup. ECOWAS had closed borders to Mali and stopped financial flows to put pressure on the junta to quickly return to a civilian government.

Former Defense Minister and retired Col. Maj. Bah N’Daw was inducted Friday as the new transitional president while Col. Assimi Goita, head of the junta that staged the coup, was installed as Mali’s new vice president. The three government heads are to lead the transitional government to an election in 18 months.

The appointment of Ouane, 64, was made by official decree Sunday and signed by N’Daw. Ouane was minister of foreign affairs from 2004 to 2011 under former President Amadou Toumani Toure. He also served as Mali’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1995 to 2002 and later as a diplomatic adviser to ECOWAS.

The junta, which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August, detaining him, the prime minister and other government officials. Keita, who became ill, was eventually released and has gone to the United Arab Emirates for treatment.

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-Foreign Intervention-
ECOWAS became involved in negotiations that have pressed for a quick return to civilian rule.

U.N. officials have called for the release of the 13 of the 18 detained officials still being held at the Kati military camp in the Malian capital of Bamako.

There has been widespread concern that the upheaval in Mali will set back efforts to contain the country’s growing Islamic insurgency. After a similar coup in 2012, Islamic extremists grabbed control of major towns in northern Mali.

Only a 2013 military intervention led by France pushed extremists out of those towns and the international community has spent seven years battling the militants.


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Mali crisis: Interim president, Bah Ndaw makes first offical appearance.

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In his first public official appearance since being appointed Mali’s interim president — following the coup d’état in August, Bah Ndaw, a retired colonel and former defence minister from the camp of ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, met with ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan in Bamako on Thursday, on the eve of his swearing-in.

The former Nigerian president — who has been assisting with the ongoing political crisis over recent months, communicated in a meeting with his delegation, President Ndaw and other officers of the NCPS junta, that the 15 nation bloc could announce on Friday whether these official appointments would satisfy the organisation’s conditions to lift sanctions.

The 70-year-old interim president will rule for a maximum of 18 months before staging nationwide elections.

Junta head, Colonel Assimi Goita will serve as his interim vice president.


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Mali crisis: ECOWAS could likely decide this Friday.

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The West African bloc ECOWAS will likely decide on Friday whether to lift potentially crippling sanctions imposed on Mali after last month’s coup, its mediator said.

The mediator, Nigerian former president Goodluck Jonathan, called the 15-nation bloc’s sanctions “unfortunate” during a visit to Mali’s capital Bamako on Wednesday.

West African leaders have heaped pressure on the ruling military junta to return power to civilians since the coup toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.

ECOWAS has used the sanctions, which include closing borders and restricting trade, as leverage in negotiations with the junta.

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Sticking points in those negotiations have included whether civilians or soldiers will run a transition government until fresh elections.

The junta asked for the sanctions to be lifted this week after former defence minister Bah Ndaw was named interim president, tasked with governing for at most 18 months before holding polls.

The 70-year-old retired colonel will be sworn in on Friday, alongside junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita, who will serve as interim vice president.

According to the transition plan adopted by the junta, Ndaw will then appoint a prime minister, with the decision expected within a few days.

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Jonathan, in Mali on Wednesday to assess the progress the junta has made in returning an order to the country, said that ECOWAS was “eager” to make a decision on the sanctions.

“ECOWAS doesn’t want any sanctions in any part of the community,” he told reporters.

However Jonathan added that it is up to Ghanaian President and current ECOWAS leader Nana Akufo-Addo to announce the decision.

“I believe that on Friday after the inauguration, probably he will make that pronouncement,” Jonathan said.

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– Sanctions have ‘direct impact’ –

Mali’s neighbours are anxious to avoid the fragile nation of some 19 million people slipping into chaos.

Swathes of the vast country already lie outside of government control, due to a lethal jihadist insurgency that first emerged in 2012 and has also inflamed ethnic tensions.

Keen to set an example to other countries, ECOWAS has taken a hard line, threatening a “total embargo” on the country should the junta install military leaders of an interim government.

Soldiers of FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) stand and salute during the national anthem at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of Mali’s independence in Bamako, on September 22, 2020, one day after that Colonel Goïta, leader of CNSP, announced that the transitional presidency would be assigned to a retired colonel, Bah Ndaw, 70 years, ephemeral Minister of Defence in 2014. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Current restrictions ban commercial trade and financial flows, but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.

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Junta leader Goita on Tuesday said that “in the coming days ECOWAS must remove these sanctions for the happiness of the Malian”.

“The international community is watching us… which is why we accepted the ECOWAS principles,” he added.

ECOWAS said at a summit on September 15 that the sanctions would be lifted as soon as its conditions were met, including the appointment of a civilian president and prime minister.

But the junta has yet to respond to other ECOWAS demands, such as the release of other officials detained during the coup such as ousted prime minister Boubou Cisse.

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Economist Etienne Fakaba Sissoko said that the sanctions — coupled with the coronavirus pandemic — meant that Mali was barrelling into a recession.

“The immediate consequence is a reduction in public expenditure. This has a direct impact on the population,” he told AFP.

Before the coup, the Sahel country had already been facing an economic downturn, aggravated by the jihadist insurgency and chronic inter-ethnic violence.

It was frustrations over this intractable conflict — plus economic concerns and perceived corruption — which spurred anti-Keita protesters onto the streets this year, with the building unrest culminating in the coup.


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Mali crisis: Junta chief demand end of sanctions imposed after coup.

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Mali’s military junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, on Tuesday demanded an end to potentially crippling economic sanctions imposed after last month’s coup in the poor Sahel state.

Addressing reporters during a ceremony marking 60 years of Malian independence, Goita said the recent nomination of a civilian as interim president meant that West African leaders must end their trade embargo.

The 15-nation West Africa bloc ECOWAS shuttered Mali’s borders and imposed trade restrictions after Malian military officers ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.

Last week, the trade bloc also insisted that it would maintain the measures unless Mali’s ruling officers appoint civilian leaders swiftly.

“The international community is watching us… which is why we accepted the ECOWAS principles,” Goita said on Tuesday.

“In the coming days ECOWAS must remove these sanctions for the happiness of the Malian people,” he added.

The demand comes after a group of officials selected by the junta chose retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president on Monday.

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The 70-year-old will lead a transition government for a maximum of 18 months before staging national elections, according to a plan endorsed by the junta.

But it remains unclear how West African leaders will react to Ndaw’s nomination.

Hauled back from retirement, the former defence minister spent his career in Mali’s military, where he occupied a series of senior positions.

Goita himself will remain as vice president of the transition government.

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ECOWAS’ mediator in Mali’s crisis, former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, is expected in the capital Bamako on Wednesday.

‘Total embargo’
Mali’s neighbours are anxious to avoid the fragile nation of some 19 million people slipping into chaos.

Swathes of the vast country already lie outside of government control, due to a lethal jihadist insurgency that first emerged in 2012 and has also inflamed ethnic tensions.

Last week, ECOWAS took a hard line and threatened a “total embargo” on the country should the junta install military leaders of an interim government.

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Current restrictions ban commercial trade and financial flows, but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.

Heavy sanctions could bite in the poor country already facing a severe economic downturn, aggravated by the jihadist insurgency and chronic inter-ethnic violence.

It was frustrations over this intractable conflict — plus economic concerns and perceived corruption — which pushed anti-Keita protesters onto the streets this year, provoking tensions which culminated in last month’s coup.

Goita on Tuesday urged citizens to form a “sacred union around Mali” and support the security forces.

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“Today is an opportunity for me to congratulate and encourage them for all their efforts to bring security and peace to Mali,” he said of the troops.

The junta leader also called on Malians to support the “partner forces” of France and the United Nations in the country, which are often a target of popular anger.

The urging came as a protest against foreign troops was expected in Mali’s capital Bamako on Tuesday.

France has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel as part of its anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane. There are also 13,000 members of a UN peacekeeping force in Mali.


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Mali crisis: AcFta urge quick political reform; Opposition say Junta’s plan…

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Opposition group says Junta’s plan does not reflect people’s views


• The Junta’s plan not relevant to views of the people •


As Mali’s junta tried to hash out a political roadmap with West African leaders in Ghana on Tuesday, the 18-month transition plan agreed by the military just days ago is being contested in Bamako by the popular opposition protest group.

“A delegation from the junta went to Accra to negotiate and discuss the fate of Mali without involving the M5-RFP ( the 5 June Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces opposition coalition),” said Dr Choguel Kokala Maiga, President of the M5-RFP strategic committee.

Mali’s popular opposition movement led the demonstrations against the ousted president Keita.

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The military junta over the weekend adopted a “transition charter”.

It has yet to be published. But according to reports, it would provide an 18-month transition government, led by a president named by a committee set up by the military junta.

“The M5-RFP has distanced itself from the document produced, which does not reflect the views and decisions of the Malian people,” said Maiga.

The opposition group said in a statement it condemned the “intimidation, anti-democratic and unfair practices worthy of another era” and “distances itself from the resulting document which does not reflect the views and decisions of the Malian people.”

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But said it did not intend to start a conflict with the junta and would work together to modify the charter.

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• African Leaders Urge Swift Return of Political Reforms in Mali •


West African leaders urged a swift political solution in Mali on Tuesday, fearing an Islamist insurgency that has been nestled in the country since 2012 could take advantage of the fragile situation.

The 15-nation regional bloc known as ECOWAS met with Mali’s junta in Ghana. It had set the military chiefs a Tuesday deadline for naming a new civilian interim leader.

“The terrorists are taking advantage of the situation in Mali to flex their muscles even more,” said Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghanaian President and current rotating chair of ECOWAS.

“Today is supposed to be the day when the military junta in Mali is to put in place a government… That has not been done,” he said.

“The circumstances of life in Mali today require that closure be brought to the matter now. “

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ECOWAS has also urged a return to democracy within a year.

But the junta, which grabbed power after a coup in August, said it would step down in 18 months.

After a similar coup in 2012, Islamic extremists took advantage of a power vacuum and grabbed control of major towns in northern Mali.

Only a 2013 military intervention led by former colonial power France pushed extremists from those cities and the international community has invested more than seven years into the fight against extremism there.


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Mali crisis: Nigeria’s VP, Osinbajo attends ECOWAS summit in Ghana.

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has departed Nigeria for Ghana to attend the Extraordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Osinbajo, who is representing President Muhammadu Buhari, at the summit will join other leaders in the sub-region to discuss the political crisis in Mali and the security situation in the sub-region at large.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.

According to the statement, the Vice President will also meet with representatives of the Nigerian community in Ghana to discuss issues bothering on their wellbeing in the West African country.

Accompanying the Vice President is the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb Zubairu Dada.

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He is expected back in Abuja today at the end of his engagements in Ghana.

Following the coup that broke out in Mali on August 18, ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and the United States have condemned the action.

File photo of Nigeria vice president, prof yemi osinbajo

The regional bloc suspended the country pledged a range of retaliatory actions, including financial sanctions.

Similarly, ECOWAS delegation headed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, arrived in the Malian capital, Bamako on August 20 to push for a speedy return to civilian rule after a military coup in the troubled nation.

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The delegation met with the members of the new junta as well as ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Rebel soldiers seized Keita and other leaders after a mutiny dealing another deep blow to a country already struggling with a brutal Islamist insurgency and widespread public discontent over its government.

Mali’s neighbours have called for Keita to be reinstated, saying the purpose of the delegation’s visit was to help “ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.

“ECOWAS appreciates what is happening in Mali and ECOWAS wants the best for the country,” Jonathan said after his arrival.


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Mali crisis: Boubacar leaves Bamako as Junta continue talks.

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The former president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, left Bamako on Saturday evening for treatment in the United Arab Emirates, more than two weeks after his removal by a military junta in in the capital.

According to his doctors, Ibk had suffered a minor stroke, he was hospitalized Tuesday in a clinic in Bamako and later left on Thursday.

After several months of protests, Mali is faced with a dire security, economic and institutional crisis, blamed on the entire political class.

This security crisis persists. On Saturday morning, two French soldiers of in the Sahel “Barkhane” were killed and one seriously injured by explosives in the Tessalit region in (northern Mali), according to a statement by the French presidency.

Mali is faced with a dire security, economic and institutional crisis, blamed on the entire political class.


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Two soldiers, others killed in Mali explosives.

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Two French soldiers with the anti-jihadist Barkhane force in Mali were killed Saturday when their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, the French presidency said.

A third soldier was wounded in the explosion in the Tessalit province of the northeastern region of Kidal, a statement said.

President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the two dead soldiers, members of a paratroop regiment based in Tarbes, southwest France, while repeating his call for a swift transition to civilian rule by the military junta that seized power last month.

Senior French politicians and military officers have expressed concern at the effect that last month’s military coup might have on the effectiveness of the fight against the jihadist active in Mali and neighbouring countries.

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Swathes of Mali’s territory are outside of the control of central authorities and years of fighting have failed to halt an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since emerging in 2012.

This handout picture released by the French Army Information and Public Relations Service (SIRPA Terre) on September 5, 2020, shows 1st Class Hussar Arnaud Volpe of the 1st regiment of parachute hussars of Tarbes, who was killed on September 5, 2020 in Mali during his deployment as part of the Operation Barkhane. SIRPA / AFP

France has deployed over 5,000 troops serving in its Barkhane anti-jihadist force in West Africa.

According to the French army command, this latest incident brings to 45 the number of French soldiers who have died serving in the Sahel region since 2013.

In November 2019, France lost 13 soldiers in a single incident when two helicopters collided during an operation in Mali.


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Mali leader, Junta begins talks to civilian rule

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Mali’s military junta began talks on its promised transition to civilian rule on Saturday after mounting pressure from neighbours since it overthrew the nation’s leader in a coup.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was detained on August 18 after his seven-year rule. Opposition protests by the June 5 Movement urged he stepped down after endemic corruption and a simmering jihadist revolt.

The military junta pledged to step down after an undefined transition period, but the putsch has prompted Mali’s neighbours and former colonial ruler France to demand a swift transfer of power, with fears the crisis could spill over into the fragile Sahel.

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The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc has imposed sanctions and closed borders to Mali as part of efforts to press the junta into handing over power quickly.

Saturday’s summit was originally planned for last weekend but was called off at the last minute after a quarrel between the military and the June 5 Movement, which spearheaded the protests that led to the toppling of president Keita.

The opposition coalition of civil and religious leaders has demanded that the military rulers give it a role in the transition to civilian rule, but was not invited for transition talks last Saturday.

It has now been included in this weekend’s talks.

Former rebels and civil society were also invited to the discussions.

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The weekend talks, chaired by junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita, began on Saturday in the capital Bamako.

Parallel talks will take place in regional capitals, led by regional governors, according to the junta.

No date has yet been set for a power transition.

As for Keita, he left hospital on Thursday after suffering a mini-stroke following the coup, sources said.

The June 5 Movement led the protests against him for weeks before he was removed from power.


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Group of French anti-jihadist kills Malian civilian.

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French anti-jihadist troops in Mali killed a civilian Tuesday and injured two others after a bus refused to slow down in a volatile area despite their orders, the French army command said.

The incident occurred about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the city of Gao in Mali’s troubled north.

The French soldiers fired warning shots in the ground but two bullets bounced off and hit the windscreen, wounding three people, including one fatally, the French army command said.

“The seriously wounded person was evacuated by helicopter to the hospital of the (French) Barkhane force in Gao, but died of his injuries,” it said.

“All steps have been taken to ascertain the exact sequence of events,” it said, expressing its “sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.”

Mali is now under the control of a junta which seized power in a putsch two weeks ago.

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Swathes of its territory are outside of the control of central authorities and years of fighting have failed to halt an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since emerging in 2012.

France has deployed over 5,000 troops serving in its Barkhane anti-jihadist force in West Africa.

A key part of French strategy to combat terrorism in the turbulent region lies with the so-called G5 Sahel force — a scheme to create a 5,000-man joint force gathering Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger.

But the force lacks equipment, training and funds.


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