The military leadership in Mali has made a further last-minute change to its timetable to restore civilian rule after its initial proposal of a transition of up to five years was rejected.
According to the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States, President Nana Akufo-Addo, the military leadership is proposing a four-year transition period to hand over power to a civilian government.
“The official proposal, submitted to me by the transitional authorities under the hand of its head, indicated that the transition period should run for 5 years. Subsequently, by a letter to me dated January 7, 2022, the head of the Malian transition team stated that the period had now been modified to four years,” President Akufo-Addo said at a gathering of West African leaders on Sunday to discuss Mali’s crisis.
The ECOWAS extraordinary summit was expected to discuss possible sanctions on Mali over potentially delayed elections.
The meeting comes after months of increasing tensions over the timetable for restoring civilian rule in Mali after two coups, and a military takeover in 2020.
In August 2020, army officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita overthrew elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Colonel Goita subsequently promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022 after holding presidential and legislative elections.
But an interim civilian government was forced out in May 2021, disrupting the reform timetable, and was met with widespread diplomatic condemnation.
At a summit on December 12, ECOWAS leaders reiterated demands that the elections be held by February 27 as initially planned.
They maintained sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans within the ECOWAS region against around 150 junta figures and their families and threatened further economic and financial measures.
The possibility of fresh sanctions was expected to be on the agenda at Sunday’s summit.