At the 61st Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), economic and financial sanctions against Mali were lifted. The Heads of State present also chose their Bissau-Guinean counterpart Umaro Sissoco Embaló to succeed Nana Akufo-Addo as head of the body.
After a postponement of any decision-making at the June 4 Summit, the ECOWAS Heads of State met again in Accra this Sunday, July 3. Several decisions were made. Concerning Mali, ECOWAS has decided to raise the economic and financial sanctions imposed since January 9. The transition schedules, with durations of 24 months, proposed by Mali and Burkina Faso were also accepted.
As for Guinea, the third country in the military-ruled bloc following a coup, the 39-month transition was rejected. Former Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi has been appointed as the new mediator for Guinea. The former head of state was on ballot with the Ghanaian Mohamed Ibn Chambas and the Sudanese Othman Taha. Mamady Doumbouya refused Ibn Chambas, and Taha is facing legal problems in his country.
In addition to these three files, the Heads of State of ECOWAS had to choose the successor of Nana Akufo-Addo. The president of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embaló, will be the new president of the sub-regional body. “All the heads of state have trusted the youngest president in the sub-region. This shows that everyone is in solidarity with Guinea Bissau,” said Embaló. The Gambian Omar Touray will chair the ECOWAS Commission, in place of Jean-Claude Brou.
Some questions about Mali
Embaló therefore begins his mandate with a warming of relations between Mali and ECOWAS. But the sub-regional body has conditioned the continuity of the opening up of Bamako by the non-participation of the current leaders in the next elections. It is not yet certain, for the moment, that this condition imposed by ECOWAS concerns Assimi Goïta and the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) - the Malian junta.
On the one hand, the transition charter in Mali prevents Assimi Goïta from being eligible. On the other hand, an article of the charter makes him eligible “if he resigns from office”. An influential member of the Malian junta, Malick Diaw, head of the National Transitional Council (CNT) – the temporary parliament – would succeed the president in the event of his resignation. Nothing very clear while waiting for the Constitution which will be voted in 2023.
ECOWAS has also not clarified what its condition means for members of the Malian government. This especially concerns Prime Minister Choguel Maïga, who, according to his entourage, has great ambitions and who is still expected to be the candidate for power in future elections.
The Embaló construction sites at the head of ECOWAS
Mali will undeniably be one of the priority projects of the new president of ECOWAS, Umaro Sissoco Embaló. Asked about his priorities at the head of the body, the Bissau-Guinean president also preferred to kick in touch.
“The current president does not make the decisions alone. He is only the representative of all the heads of state, and the decisions are made during the summits,” Embaló told reporters.
Second stumbling block for the new decisions of ECOWAS: Guinea. Nothing excludes for the moment that Conakry could be sanctioned if the transition schedule is once again rejected by ECOWAS. Mamady Doumbouya's proposal - a 39-month transition - was unanimously rejected by the bloc's heads of state. However, Doumbouya had previously announced that he “would not be dictated” to a transition period.
Since the end of May, the President of Senegal and the African Union (AU) Macky Sall had described the Guinean calendar as "unthinkable". He also called on ECOWAS to impose sanctions on the Guinean junta. The real problem for Doumbouya, however, remains that there is no line of communication with ECOWAS. According to Africa Intelligence, Conakry's refusal to appoint Ibn Chambas as transition facilitator for Guinea annoyed West African presidents. Perhaps Doumbouya will accept the mediation of Boni Yayi.
Files that will occupy Umaro Sissoco Embaló in the weeks to come. However, the Bissau-Guinean president is himself in a delicate position vis-à-vis his counterparts. Embaló has often criticized the body and he owes his presidency of ECOWAS, according to an inside source, to a last-minute change of heart from Togo and Liberia, as well as strong support from Nigeria.