Preventing the risk of uncertainty

The United Nations Security Council recently convened an urgent meeting to discuss “hot” developments in Mali, during which the international community affirmed their stance of opposing any government change that goes against the constitution.

File photo: President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keita addresses the general debate of the 74th session General Assembly (Photo: UN)
File photo: President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keita addresses the general debate of the 74th session General Assembly (Photo: UN)

Countries also emphasised the need to address the current crisis through dialogue aiming to promptly restore the constitutional order and prevent the West African nation from being engulfed by waves of violence, uncertainty and divisions.

The upheaval to overthrow the President and Government in Mali has triggered fears about exacerbating the lingering political, economic and social crisis in the country. The situation in Mali has become tense since early July when the June 5 Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP) launched large-scale protests demanding President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s resignation, considering this a prerequisite for all future political negotiations. Despite efforts by regional organisations and the international community to implement mediation measures, the situation in the African nation has continued to proceed complicatedly, with tensions reaching their pinnacle as President Keita and other senior government officials were arrested by a group of mutinous soldiers. The troops, proclaimed as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), announced the seizure of power in Mali and said it will conduct a general election in the near future. Army Colonel Assimi Goita introduced himself as the leader of the upheaval and the CNSP. Despite denying any connection with the group of mutinous soldiers participating in the overthrow of the government, the opposition movement M5-RFP declared that it would cooperate with the military government to promote a roadmap for political transition.

Leaders in West Africa are concerned that the dangers behind the political crisis in Mali could pose a security threat to the region. This semi-desert and landlocked country is being used by terrorist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) as a springboard to attack neighbouring countries. World powers fear the post-coup chaos in Mali could undermine military campaigns against Islamist militants in the Sahel region, which are being deployed by France and its allies in coordination with the G5 Sahel forces. Presidents of five West African nations of Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ghana and Niger have pushed diplomatic efforts to end the crisis in Mali and prevent the country from following the “same path of failure” of unrest and divisions as it did after the 2012 coup.

The upheaval in Mali encountered strong criticism and opposition from the international community. The United Nations, the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Economic Community of West African Nations (ECOWAS) and other significant powers called on the coup participants to comply with the constitutional order and release the Malian leaders. ECOWAS stated that it would take all necessary measures to restore the constitutional order in Mali, including the closure of the land and air borders with Mali and the imposition of sanctions on those participating in the upheaval. This regional organisation said it would temporarily exclude Mali from its policy-making bodies. To put pressure on the mutinous troops in Mali, President of South Africa and AU Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the unconstitutional government change in Mali, calling for the immediate return of Mali to the civilian regime and demanding that troops return to their barracks. The AU Chairperson recommended that the people of Mali, political parties and civil society abide by the rule of law, as well as engage in peaceful dialogue to address current challenges.

Stability in Mali as well as the fight against terrorism is a top priority that is being promoted by countries in the region and the international community. Mali will decend into riots if the situation is not quickly stabilised. Member countries of the United Nations Security Council have emphasised the importance of restoring constitutional order and complying with the 2015 Mali Peace Accord, while calling on the parties concerned to refrain from using forces and to promote dialogue in search of a peaceful political solution in line with Mali’s Constitution and laws, aiming to prevent the African country from being caught up in a new spiral of violence.