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Mali: Goodluck Jonathan-led ECOWAS delegation disagrees with Colonel Goïta over transition period

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has disagreed with the military junta of Colonel Goïta over the duration of the transition into civil government and a date for elections.

Mediator for the regional bloc, and former president of Nigeria (2010-2015 Goodluck Jonathan had been on a mission since Friday in Bamako and left on Sunday without reaching a compromising stand with the military government.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ramped up sanctions on Mali after Goïta took over the government in August 2020. The regional body also activated its standby military force following the failure of transitional authorities in the country to organise elections.

The government of Mali, which has been under West African sanctions since January, says it has submitted a timetable for “elections with a 36-month (three-year) deadline for the transition,” but “this proposal was not accepted by the West African mediator,” according to a statement issued Sunday evening after Jonathan’s departure.

 The Mali War started in January 2012 between the northern and southern parts of Mali in Africa with several insurgent groups, Jihadist and separatist fighters with affiliations with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group  began fighting a campaign against the Malian government for independence or greater autonomy for northern Mali, which they called Azawad. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), an organization fighting to make this area of Mali an independent homeland for the Tuareg people, had taken control of the region by April 2012.

The government said it had proposed “a new deadline of 29 months,” which the junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goïta, “in a last-ditch effort to reach a realistic compromise (…) has reduced to 24 months.

But “this new deadline, which the Malian authorities consider unavoidable, did not meet with the approval of the mediator and his delegation, who remained in their position,” the government added.

The last proposal made by the junta to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), during the organization’s last summit on the issue in early February in Accra, was a four-year transition.

The regional organization had heavily sanctioned in January the junta of Colonel Goïta, brought to the head of Mali by a first coup d’état in August 2020 and enthroned president “of the transition” following a second putsch in May 2021.

These sanctions – closure of borders with ECOWAS countries, embargo on trade and financial transactions – punish the military’s plan to continue governing for several years, and their unfulfilled commitment to organize elections in February 2022 that would have brought back civilians to lead the country.

A technical committee of ECOWAS had proposed the organization of polls within 12 or 16 months, with the help of an Independent Electoral Management Authority (Aige), according to a document that AFP had consulted.

After the failure of talks with the junta, Mr. Jonathan “reiterated the commitment of ECOWAS to facilitate an agreement for the restoration of constitutional order” in Mali, in a statement issued Sunday evening by the ECOWAS commission.

He “reaffirmed his willingness to continue discussions with the Malian authorities in order to agree on an acceptable transition timetable,” the statement said.

“We are at the end of the mission in Bamako. If it is to say that we have agreed on a date for the end of the transition, I immediately say no,” a member of Jonathan’s delegation told newsmen on Sunday.

The West African mediator had called for a democratic transition “as soon as possible”, the day after the approval of a plan allowing the military junta to remain in power for five years.

Mali’s legislature, which has been controlled by the military since the August 2020 coup, endorsed a transition period of up to five years before elections are held on February 21.

In this poor, landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, the political crisis goes hand in hand with a serious security crisis, which has been ongoing since the outbreak of independence and jihadist insurgencies in the north in 2012.

Politics

Chad’s PM resigns following disputed election of Deby

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Succes Masra, the opposition leader and prime minister of Chad, announced on Wednesday that he had tendered his resignation following the confirmation of Mahamat Idriss Deby as the winner of the May 6 presidential election.

In an attempt to appease the opposition, Masra, a vigorous opponent of the junta that took control in April 2021, was named prime minister of the transitional government in January, four months before the election.

His candidacy was approved in March to hold the presidential election and restore constitutional order to the nation. The oil-producing nation is the first in a line of coup-hit Sahelian republics in West and Central Africa to try a similar comeback.

Masra declared victory before formally releasing the preliminary results, claiming that election fraud was organized. With 61% of the vote, Deby was declared the winner by Chad’s state election board, and the constitutional council subsequently affirmed his victory.

Masra has accepted the council’s decision and stated that there was no alternative way to challenge the outcomes legally.

“In accordance with the constitution, I have today presented… my resignation and that of the transitional government, which has become irrelevant with the end of the presidential
election of May 6,” Masra said on X on Wednesday.

The family has maintained a tight hold on power since Deby’s father overthrew the government in a coup in the early 1990s, and Deby’s triumph strengthens their hold on power.

Deby, the acting president of Chad, was declared the winner of the May 6 presidential election by the state electoral commission two weeks ago. Provisional results show that Deby received almost 61% of the vote. This statement was issued even though the front-runner of the opposition declared himself the winner.

Chad is the first coup-affected nation in West and Central Africa to have successfully returned to constitutional rule through democratic elections, replacing its previous military regime. On the other hand, certain opposition parties have voiced their displeasure over concerns about electoral meddling.

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Kenya’s Ruto to discuss debt relief with Biden this week

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This week, Kenyan President, William Ruto will be hosted by US President, Joe Biden, for extensive negotiations that are anticipated to cover a range of topics, including Kenya’s debt relief as well as the future of Haiti, Ukraine, Sudan, and other regions.

Kenya has been facing severe cash shortages, and a senior administration official quoted by Reuter said that the US is pressuring major creditors like China, which is Kenya’s largest creditor, to provide debtor nations with assistance.

“We think it’s essential that responsible debtors provide reprieves for countries like Kenya, whether that’s by debt service suspensions or via new grant assistance,” the official said.

Additionally, Washington is pressuring global financial institutions to provide Kenya and other nations with affordable funding. During the state visit this week, the official indicated to anticipate some major joint pronouncements about debt relief “on how countries like Kenya can tackle this problem of debt.”

Washington hopes to counter China’s growing influence in Africa, which is one of the reasons it scheduled the high-profile visit by the Kenyan leader.

By collecting debt service payments and limiting follow-on loans, US Treasury Undersecretary Jay Shambaugh warned China and other nations that made large loans to low-income countries last month against free-riding.

The remarks demonstrated the mounting annoyance of debtor countries and Western countries with Beijing’s procrastination about debt restructuring and the glacial pace of debt relief negotiations.

The executive director of Jubilee USA Network, an ecumenical coalition of advocacy, development, and religious organizations, Eric LeCompte, predicted that the Ruto visit would have a significant impact on American policy on Africa.

“When Ruto speaks, he’s speaking for Africa. And given that President Biden hasn’t had the chance to visit Africa yet, this meeting is not only about Kenya, it’s really about sub-Saharan Africa as a whole,” LeCompte said.

 

During a meeting Ruto called last month, African leaders urged that affluent countries make record commitments to the World Bank’s International Growth Association, a low-interest facility that developing countries rely on to help finance economic growth and combat climate change.

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