Director of the West African bloc ECOWAS, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, has urged Mali’s ruling junta that elections announced for February must go ahead on schedule, his delegation said on Sunday.
Akufo-Addo delivered the message to the country’s strongman, Colonel Assimi Goita, during talks in Bamako.
Goita, who overthrew the elected president and later declared himself interim president met the Ghanaian leader at Bamako airport, Mali’s presidency announced on social media.
Ghana currently holds ECOWAS’s rotating chair, but Akufo-Addo was accompanied by Nigeria’s ex-president Goodluck Jonathan who is mediating in the Malian crisis and Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the ECOWAS commission president.
“The aim was to get a firm message across, and we did,”. An ECOWAS delegation will return to Bamako at the end of October when they hope to receive the assurances they are seeking.
But a senior member of the ECOWAS delegation disclosed to Journalist that “our message was unambiguous and we said it clearly: the elections have to be held on the scheduled dates.
The war-torn Sahel country is facing international pressure to swiftly restore civilian rule
Even though Goita promised to hold elections in February next year, his government has been slow to prepare for the poll and the junta has suggested the deadline may not be met.
The ECOWAS visit also comes at a delicate moment diplomatically.
ECOWAS last month urged Mali to draw up a timetable by the end of October of “key stages” ahead of the February elections.
The regional group of 15 countries said a list of individuals and organisations would be drawn up who would face targeted sanctions if they delay the return to civilian rule.