The West African community calls for President Keita to return to Mali. There is great fear of similar developments in the region.
It was a long conference that the heads of state of the West African Economic Community (Ecowas) attended on the Thursday after the military coup in Mali – due to the coronavirus via video. As “interim results”, Ecowas published screenshots showing the presidents.
Some of them tweeted unusually eagerly – including Macky Sall from Senegal: “The coup against a democratically elected president is a violation of the Ecowas protocol.” From Nigeria’s capital Abuja, Muhammadu Buhari announced: “The events are a major step backwards for the regional one Democracy, with serious consequences for peace and security in West Africa”.
The final statement is accordingly clear. Not only sanctions against Mali such as border closings and the immediate suspension of financial support are announced. The 14 heads of state are also calling for Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who announced his resignation after his arrest by the military, to be reinstated as president immediately.
A “high-level delegation” is to be sent to ensure the “immediate return of constitutional order”. In the past few days, when Ecowas had repeatedly and vehemently criticized the developments, Keïta critics in Mali perceived their statements as an insult. They were said by people who had no idea about everyday life in Mali.
According to observers in the region, there is one main reason for the clear words of the regional alliance: There is great fear that developments will spill over to other countries and that other presidents will experience the same thing.
The Sahel states in particular have been weakened by the spread of various terrorist groups. In countries like Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger, which even share a border with Mali, elections are due by the end of the year. The concern had already been felt since mid-July, when the first mediations under the leadership of Nigeria’s ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had taken place. Now they have become even more urgent.
Great dissatisfaction with the governments and, above all, with their plans to remain in power, has been particularly evident in the Ivory Coast and Guinea. In Guinea people were repeatedly killed in demonstrations.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the crisis in Burkina Faso is currently the “world’s fastest growing humanitarian and security crisis”. There are now more than a million people on the run. The government of Roch Kaboré has not yet been able to contain the development.