Leaders of the regional bloc, ECOWAS hold an extraordinary summit in Accra, Ghana on Sunday in another attempt to bring back on track mediation efforts which are spinning out of control in Mali and Guinea, following military coups in both countries.
The two nations have been suspended by ECOWAS and the African Union, while ECOWAS has also imposed targeted sanctions on officials believed to be stalling the transition programmes after the internationally condemned military takeover of elected governments.
The summit called by Ghana, the current chair of the rotating ECOWAS Authority, is the first meeting by the regional body after the government in Mali expelled the ECOWAS Representative from Bamako, who was accused of trying to destabilise” the transition programme.
In its response, ECOWAS merely condemned the expulsion, which is unprecedented in the organisation’s 46-year history.
It vowed to accompany Mali towards restoration of constitutional order.
Meanwhile, a UN Security Council delegation has also visited Mali for talks with the Col Assimi Goita-led government, insisting that the government must respect the transition timetable it had set for itself which provides for elections in February 2022 for hand-over to elected civilians.
But the Bamako government appears to be working towards an extension of the programme.
Another sticking point is the Mali-Russia defence agreement that could see a Russian private contractor support Mali with soldiers to help fight its chronic insecurity.
France and its Western allies are against the move, which the Malian government said was as a result of France’s “abandonment” of Mali, with the decision by Paris to scale down its 5,100-strong Barkhane mission in the Sahel, which covers Mali.
The Accra Summit also comes on the heels of a meeting in Conakry this week between an ECOWAS delegation and the Col. Mamady Doumbouya-led Guinean government.
Doumbouya has named a Prime Minister and some ministers in a transition government, but has failed to give any dates for return to civilian rule.
Going by the resolve of the two military-led governments and the growing anti-ECOWAS sentiments in both countries, the regional bloc appears to have very limited room to manoeuvre for mediation.
But a change of mediation strategy, coordinated by visionary leadership with focus and determination could break the stalemate.
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