Bailing Mali out of its economic challenges
The relationship between these three friendly nations, Ghana, Guinea and Mali, dated back to the 1950s during which their three leaders, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure and Modibo Keita, all of blessed memory, worked together and shared common ideology of promoting peace and unity towards the development of the African Continent.
The Union of African States, sometimes called the Ghana-Guinea-Mali, was formed in 1958, linking the two West African nations, Ghana and Guinea, as the Union of Independent African States. Mali later joined that union in 1960.
The classic popular Ghanaian musician, E.T. Mensah’s highlife song, captured the hope of the early 1960s, when the three Pan African leaders, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Sekou Toure of Guinea and Modibo Keita of Mali, formed the Union of African States.
THE UNION OF AFRICAN STATES
The union which was disbanded in 1963, planned to develop a common currency and unified foreign policy among member countries. Unfortunately, none of those proposals were implemented. The union was the first organisation in Africa which brought together former British and French colonies. Though the union was opened to all independent African states, none of them joined. Its legacy was largely limited to the long standing relationships among the three heads of state, Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure and Modibo Keita.
The union again, came to the limelight when Nkrumah was named as the co-president of Guinea after he was deposed as president of Ghana by a military coup in 1966. Since that time, the three nations had been working together to promote peace and stability in their respective countries and the continent as a whole under successive governments.
MILITARY COUP IN GUINEA
On 23rd December, 2008, shortly after the death of the long-time president of Guinea,Lansana Conte, a junta called the National Council for Democracy and Development, headed by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, seized power in Guinea and announced that, it planned to rule the country for two years prior to a new presidential election. Captain Camara, indeed, abided by his promise and stepped down after Alpha Conte was elected president in the 2010 election.
Since then, Alpha Conte who was born on March 1938, continues to be the President of Guinea. He has a clean political record of spending decades in opposition to a succession of regimes in Guinea. When he took office in December, 2010, he became the first freely elected president in the country’s history. He was re-elected in 2015 with about 58 per cent of the votes and again in 2020, with 59.5 per cent votes.
CURRENT SITUATION IN MALI
It is now the turn of Mali, the landlocked country in a coup plot. The head of the former junta in that country, Col Asimi Goita, was reported to have declared himself the country’s transitional president, after he had stripped the country’s interim president and former prime minister of their powers. The current situation is said to be tense but calm.
President Bah Ndaw and the Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, who were placed under a military detention, had since been released.They were taken to a military base late on Monday, 24th May 2021, in what was seen as Mali’s second military coup in nine months. The move, followed a cabinet reshuffle in which two army officers involved in the previous coup lost their jobs. Colonel Goita complained that the ex-president failed to consult him about the composition of a new cabinet.
MILITARY TAKE-OVER IN MALI AND BREAK-DOWN OF MEASURES
It is recalled that on August 18, 2020, some military officers from the Malian Armed Forces, stormed the Sundiata military base in the town of Kati where gun fire was exchanged before weapons were distributed from the armoury and senior officers were arrested. Tanks and armoured vehicles were seen on the town’s streets, as well as military trucks heading for the capital, Bamako. The soldiers detained several government officials including President Ibrahim Boubacar Kaita, who resigned and dissolved the government. This has been the country’s second coup in less than 10 years, following that of 2012. Soon after the take-over, leaders of ECOWAS heads of state, convened an emergency meeting, chaired by the former Nigerian leader, Goodluck Jonathan, and introduced far-reaching measures which brought the situation under control.
There was a breakdown in the interim measures put in place and that necessitated the holding of another emergency extraordinary summit on the situation in Mali on Sunday, May 30, 2021, to find a lasting solution to the problem and to restore peace in that country.
SUSPENSION OF MALI FROM THE ECOWAS AND THE AU
The meeting, under the auspices of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and the current ECOWAS Chairman, brought together leaders of the 15-member countries. The leaders agreed that with immediate effect, Mali should be suspended from the regional bloc until the deadline of the end of February 2022, when the country’s interim leaders are supposed to hand over to a democratically elected government. They called for the immediate appointment of a new civilian prime minister and the formation of an all- inclusive government.
It affirmed 27th February, 2022, as the date for the presidential election, but indicated that the Head of the Transition Government, the Vice President, and the Prime Minister, should not under any circumstance, be candidates in the planned presidential election.
The 38-year old Special Forces Commander, Col Assimi Goita, was said to be one of the several colonels who overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last year.
Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has also announced the suspension of Mali from the union.
HANDLING THE MALIAN ISSUE TACTFULLY
The situation in Mali needs to be handled tactfully and with all the seriousness it deserved, in order not to create an unnecessary upheavals and chaos in that country. If care is not taken to resolve this thorny issue fairly, it will escalate and affect other neighbouring countries in West Africa.
The leadership of ECOWAS, must ensure that the new interim administration in that country be well represented by all sections of the society, the military, chiefs, opinion leaders, the clergy among others and to ensure that decisions are taken collectively when it comes to governance.
Already, Mali is faced with a number of emerging difficulties, such as droughts and desertification. These problems have impacted so much on foodsecurity and nutrition, especially among children and the vulnerable groups. Poverty is on the high side. Displaced children don’t have access to healthcare and education. This terrible situation in this landlocked country, needs emergency solutions to put the country back on track. Already, the deadly corona virus pandemic has taken a major toll on the economy and the country is currently counting its losses.
BACKGROUND ABOUT MALI
Mali, which is the eighth largest country in Africa is confronted with violent crimes such as kidnapping and armed robbery. It is among the 10 poorest nations of the world and one of the 37 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). The country is a major recipient of foreign aid from many international sources, including bilateral and multilateral organisations mostly, the World Bank, African Development Bank (ADB) and the Arab Fund. Conflicts in this landlocked country continue as frequent and severe droughts have added to the country’s challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the nation’s poor healthcare system and worsened economic decline in the country.
Indeed, the prevailing difficult condition in Mali, has necessitated an urgent need for the African Union(AU) and ECOWAS to provide the needed support to that country to overcome the challenges, rather than imposing restrictions on that nation.
AV0IDANCE OF COUPS IN AFRICA
While steps are being taken by ECOWAS to restore peace in Mali and ensure that election is held to select a leader through democratic means, it is important to drum home to fellow African countries that using the military and for that matter the barrel of the gun to overthrow a constitutionally mandated government is criminal and, therefore, not in the best interest of any nation but rather causes misery and worsens the living conditions of the suffering masses. Let us, therefore, avoid these unnecessary coups which are not doing the continent any good but rather creating a lot of harm to African continent.
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