Mali: Opposition rejects negotiations, insists president resign

by Maruf Adedeji

Mali’s opposition has turned down a plan offered by an international body for peace arbitration, insisting on its demand that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita must resign.

Despite the latest move, Mali’s political conflicts continued to get tensed, resulting in violent clashes, which have seen 11 people dead, so far.

A delegation from the 15-nation ECOWAS bloc had earlier held several meetings over Mali’s political standoff, but all attempts have yet to yield positive result.

The June 15 Movement, an anti-Keita’s led government, on Friday July 17, 2020, said the president’s departure had been a ‘red line’ for the arbitrators, defying the risk Keita poses to the very existence of Mali as a nation, republic and democracy.

Part of the June 5 Movement’s demands is that Keita resigns as president for perceived inabilities to tackle the dwindling economy and the country’s conflict since 2012.

The June 5 Movement is protesting against the government through different demonstrations, including the latest rally turning violent on July 10, 2020.

According to an official tally, political conflicts deepened with the recent three days of bloody clashes between protesters and security forces, leaving 11 dead and 158 injured.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan led the ECOWAS mediation team to Mali since Wednesday in an effort to broker a peace between the conflicting parties.

The ECOWAS mediators aimed to also resolve issues linked to the March-April parliamentary election – an instance many experts say is likely the cause of the crisis.

Keita has been accused of influencing the April’s judgement by the Mali’s constitutional court that ruled in favour of perceived Keita’s loyalists in 30 results from the election.

Jonathan, head of ECOWAS delegation, said on Saturday that negotiations were still ongoing and the meeting would continue.

The anti-Keita’s government movement said on Friday that there was no going back on its demand for the president’s resignation due to his ‘proven inability to turn Mali around,’ and loss of territories, among others.

Mali’s continued political crisis has also raised growing concerns over the fate of nearly 20 million in Sahel who may possibly slide into jeopardy.

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