The West African regional bloc ECOWAS on Monday issued a new appeal for Mali to make a “swift” transition to civilian rule following a military coup on August 18.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States slapped sanctions on Mali after the putsch, including closing borders and a ban on trade and financial flows, and has called for elections within 12 months.
“It is our community’s duty to help Malians towards the swift re-establishment of all democratic institutions. The military junta must help us to help Mali,” ECOWAS’ current chairman, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou, said at the start of a summit.
“Other strategic partners of the Malian people have the same hope,” he said.
During an extraordinary ECOWAS summit on Mali last week, President Issoufou had indicated that the sanctions would be “lifted gradually depending on the implementation” of measures allowing a return to civilian rule.
Eight heads of state including Senegalese President Macky Sall, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara and Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo were present at the opening of Monday’s video summit.
Mali has long been plagued by instability, a simmering jihadist revolt, ethnic violence and endemic corruption, prompting a clique of rebel soldiers to detain president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last month.
The military junta held talks over the weekend with opposition groups on its promise to hand power back to civilians, after mounting pressure from neighbouring countries over fears of even more instability in the war-torn nation.