The interim government of Mali has said a representative of West African bloc ECOWAS has been expelled from the conflict-ridden and coup-prone country, relating it to actions incompatible with his status.
“The government of the Republic of Mali has decided to declare the ECOWAS special representative in Mali persona non grata, in view of his actions that are incompatible with his status”, according to a government statement broadcast on a monitored state television.
The ECOWAS representative identified as Hamidou Boly has 72 hours to leave the Sahel state.
It is not certain what triggered the expulsion. It however comes at a time of growing pressure on Mali’s military rulers to return power to civilians.
Recall that Mali got into political turmoil last year, culminating in a putsch led by Colonel Assimi Goita in August 2020 against president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The military under the threat of sanctions, then appointed an interim civilian government tasked with steering the country back to democratic rule.
Colonel Goita, however overthrew the leaders of that interim government in May — in a second putsch — and was later declared interim president himself, drawing international condemnation.
Both the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations have insisted on swift elections to restore civilian rule.
Mali’s interim government has said that it will set an election date after holding a “nation forum on rebuilding” in December.
Choguel Kokalla Maiga, interim Prime Minister told reporters on Sunday, after a meeting with UN representatives, that security is the “highest priority”, however.
Swathes of the vast nation of 19 million people lie outside of government control because of a jihadist insurgency that first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the centre of the country, as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.