Mali’s military leader in Ghana for ECOWAS meeting

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Mali’s military leader, Colonel Assimi Goita left the capital Bamako for Ghana where West African leaders will decide on a response to the country’s second coup in nine months.

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, invited Goita to come to Ghana’s capital Accra for “consultations” ahead of an extraordinary summit on Sunday devoted to Mali, according to letter from the 15-nation bloc seen by AFP.

Goita had served as vice president since leading a coup last August that ousted the democratically elected president, with the roles of president and prime minister held by civilians after pressure from ECOWAS, which has served as a mediator.

However on Monday soldiers detained transitional president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane, releasing them on Thursday while saying that they had resigned.

The twin arrests triggered a diplomatic uproar and marked the second apparent coup within a year in the Sahel country.

Mali’s constitutional court completed Goita’s rise to full power on Friday by naming him transitional president.

With the junta going back on its previous commitment to civilian political leaders, doubts have been raised about its other pledges, including holding elections in early 2022.

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The junta said this week it will would continue to respect that timetable, but added that it could be subject to change.

The constitutional court said Goita would “exercise the functions of transitional president to lead the transition process to its conclusion”.

ECOWAS, which issued sanctions against Mali after the August coup before lifting them when the transitional government was put in place, will meet from 2:00 pm (1400 GMT) in Accra on Sunday.

The 15-nation bloc has warned of reimposing sanctions on the country, as has the United States and former colonial power France.

Ndaw and Ouane’s detention came hours after a government reshuffle that would have replaced the defence and security ministers, both of whom were army officers involved in the August putsch.

On Friday, Goita said the army had had little choice but to intervene.

“We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defence and security forces and we chose cohesion,” he said.

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Goita added that he wants to name a prime minister from the opposition M5 movement within days.