Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Antonio Guterres says he is working with the AU and ECOWAS to create ‘conditions’ to enable accelerated transition.

The head of the United Nations has called on Mali’s ruling army to announce an election roster amid anger over its proposal of stay in power for five years before voting.

“It is absolutely essential that the government of Mali presents an acceptable election timetable,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Thursday. He said he hoped to “get in touch quickly” with the military.

“I am working with ECOWAS and the African Union to create conditions that will allow the Government of Mali to take a reasonable and acceptable position to accelerate a transition that has been going on for a long time. , “he added.

It could restore a sense of “normality in relations between this state and the international community, especially ECOWAS,” Guterres said, referring to the Economic Community of West African States.

In a sharp escalation after months of diplomatic tensions, ECOWAS agreed last week to close borders with the Sahel state and impose a trade ban.

‘Risk’ of deterioration

The move came after Mali’s interim government proposed to stay in power for up to five years before elections are held, disregarding international demands that it respect a promise to hold elections on February 27.

Mali’s army initially promised to hold elections in February this year, after carrying out a coup in August 2020. But in December, it proposed staying in power for up to an additional five years, citing security issues.

In line with ECOWAS measures, the European Union will also impose sanctions on Mali, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said earlier on Thursday.

“The risk of the situation in this country deteriorating is clear,” Borrell told reporters after a meeting of EU defense ministers in the western French city of Brest.

Russia and China on Wednesday prevented the UN Security Council from supporting ECOWAS ‘decision to impose new sanctions.

According to Borrell, the EU move was also a reaction to the arrival of private military contractors from the controversial Russian Wagner Group, whose members are mostly former service staff.

France, Mali’s former colonial power that also holds the EU’s rotating presidency, has thousands of troops fighting armed groups in the Sahel region and joined 15 other countries in December to condemn the possible arrival of mercenaries.

In December, the 27-nation EU imposed sanctions on Wagner and imposed a new sanctions regime on Mali with the aim of targeting the military.

“The new sanctions regime has been agreed and these discussions will now continue,” French Armed Forces spokeswoman Florence Parly told a news conference with Borrell.

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