ECOWAS invites Mali junta leader to summit

The Economic Community of West African States is set to hold an extraordinary summit over Mali’s political crisis.

According to document seen by AFP, the meeting will hold on Friday, with the Sahel nation’s junta leader, Assimi Goita, invited.

The summit is due to take place in Ghana’s capital Accra, about a week since the ECOWAS envoy to Mali travelled to Bamako for inconclusive talks on restoring civilian rule.

The 15-nation ECOWAS is pushing for the military, which seized power in a 2020 coup, to stage elections within 12 to 16 months.

But the coup leader, Goita — who has since been sworn in as interim president — has so far defied international pressure to hold elections.

In January, ECOWAS imposed a trade embargo and border closures on Mali after the junta proposed remaining in power for up to five years.

According to an ECOWAS document seen by AFP on Wednesday, the bloc is planning a summit on Mali’s “political situation” on Friday, with Goita invited to attend.

It was not clear whether the strongman, a former special forces commander, will attend.

Much of Mali, a vast nation of 21 million people, is plagued by a jihadist conflict that first emerged in 2012 before spreading to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Former colonial power France has thousands of troops deployed across the Sahel, with the majority in Mali.

However, Paris announced this month that it would pull troops out of Mali after a breakdown in relations with the junta.

Source: PUNCH

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