UN chief urges Mali government not to announce ‘acceptable’ voting schedule EU news

Antonio Guterres said he was working with the AU and ECOWAS to create “conditions” to speed up the transition.

The UN chief has called on Mali’s ruling army to announce a timetable for elections amid anger at Mali’s proposal. in power Voting will be held five years later.

“It is absolutely necessary for the Malian government to come up with an acceptable electoral timetable,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters on Thursday. He said he wanted “quick contact” with the military.

He added: “I am working with ECOWAS and the African Union to create conditions that will allow the Malian government to take a reasonable and acceptable position to accelerate the transition that has been underway for a long time.”

Referring to ECOWAS, Guterres said this could bring “normal relations between the country and the international community, especially ECOWAS”.

After months of sharply escalating diplomatic tensions, ECOWAS last week agreed to close its border with the Sahel state, Implement a trade embargo.

“Risk” of deterioration

The move comes after Mali’s interim government proposed to stay in power for up to five years before holding elections, ignoring demands by the international community to abide by its pledge to hold elections on February 27.

The Malian army had initially pledged to hold elections in February this year after a coup in August 2020. But in December, citing security concerns, it recommended another five years in power.

The EU will also impose sanctions on Mali under the ECOWAS measure, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said earlier on Thursday.

“The risk of deterioration in the country is clear,” Borrell told reporters after a meeting of EU defense ministers in the western French city of Brest.

On Wednesday, Russia and China blocked the UN Security Council’s decision to back ECOWAS’s new sanctions.

According to Borrell, the EU move is also a response to the arrival of the controversial Russian private military contractor. Wagner Group, whose members are mostly retired personnel.

France, Mali’s former colonial power and the rotating EU presidency, has thousands of soldiers fighting armed groups in the Sahel and joined 15 other countries in December in condemning the possible arrival of mercenaries.

In December, 27 EU countries imposed sanctions on Wagner and set up a new sanctions regime for Mali with a view to targeting the military.

“A new sanctions regime has been agreed and these discussions will now continue,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told a news conference with Borrell.