Mali expels West African bloc envoy -foreign ministry

PUBLISHED: Tue, 26 Oct 2021 08:16:06 GMT
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Photo: via Reuters

BAMAKO, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Mali’s transitional government has given the special representative from West Africa’s main regional bloc 72 hours to leave the country over “actions incompatible with his status”, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been pressing Mali to respect its commitment to have presidential and legislative elections next February following last year’s military coup.

Mali’s interim authorities have pushed back, saying this week that they would confirm a date for elections after national consultations in December.

“He is engaged with groups, individuals from civil society, from the world of politics and even from the world of the press, who undertake actions hostile to the transition and which are not in line with his mission,” Mali Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told the state broadcaster.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach the ECOWAS representative, Hamidou Boly, to respond to the allegations.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who chairs the bloc, visited Mali’s capital Bamako earlier this month to push for elections to be held on time.

Read more: West African bloc resorts to sanctions over Guinea and Mali coups

ECOWAS has been approached for comment.

A spokesperson for Mali’s M5-RFP political coalition, which led anti-government protests that culminated in last year’s coup, accused Boly of supporting the former regime, and called on the government to withdraw the country from ECOWAS.

“He is an enemy of Mali, he is against Mali, he is here to divide us and not to unite us,” said M5-RFP spokesperson Jeamille Bittar.

Mali’s transition back to democracy following the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020 is being closely watched in a region that has seen several recent military coups and where Islamist militancy is on the rise.

The process was dealt a setback in May when the colonel who led the initial coup, Assimi Goita, ordered the arrest of the interim president and then took over the role himself.

“Mali reiterates the willingness of the government to maintain dialogue with ECOWAS and to work together for the success of the transition,” the foreign ministry’s statement said.

(Reporting by Souleymane Anara and Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Hereward Holland and Aaron Ross; Editing by Giles Elgood, Mike Harrison and Grant McCool)

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