West African leaders say they will not support the Malian military ruler’s move to extend his rule by four years
It is not yet clear whether the West African leaders gathered in the capital of Ghana will further strengthen the existing sanctions against Malian coup leaders. The European Union has implemented a travel ban and has frozen the financial assets of all members of the transitional authority and their families.
The President of Burkina Faso said in a speech on Sunday that the proposal to extend the military government’s time in power “causes the attention of the entire West African region”.
Burkina Faso President Roch Mark said: “Although we are aware of the complexity of the situation in the country, we also believe that all political, economic and social reforms aimed at rebuilding Mali can only be carried out by the elected authorities.” Christian Kabore, the current chairman of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
After the overthrow of Mali’s elected president, the coup leader Goita promised to quickly restore democratic rule to the country. However, after he effectively launched a second coup nine months later, forcing the selected transitional civilian leader to step down and become president himself, doubts about his intentions deepened.
The Malian military government insists that due to the deepening of insecurity throughout the country, Islamic extremists have been fighting a decade-long rebellion and therefore cannot hold elections. They also stated that drafting a new constitution and submitting it to voters in a referendum is crucial. This is a long effort that will pave the way for new local and legislative elections before any presidential vote.
They initially proposed a five-year extension, but West African leaders said that a new document sent on Friday would amend it to a total of four years.
The French military helped militants step down in northern Mali in 2013 and is now reducing its military presence in Mali. Although the presence of United Nations peacekeepers and regional forces supports the Malian army’s efforts, many people worry that their departure will only deepen the crisis.
Critics of the military government worry that political turmoil will further weaken the Malian army’s response to Islamic extremist attacks as the Malian army will increasingly assume responsibility for fighting militants.
Krista Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.