Mali's interim government declares Hamidou Boly, ECOWAS special representative, persona non grata.

A convoy of Malian Armed Force escorting the new President of Mali's transitional government Colonel Assimi Goita on May 31, 2021.
A convoy of Malian Armed Force escorting the new President of Mali's transitional government Colonel Assimi Goita on May 31, 2021. (AFP)

Mali's interim government has expelled the representative of West African bloc ECOWAS from the conflict-ridden country, the government said, over "actions incompatible with his status".

Hamidou Boly has 72 hours to leave the Sahel state.

"The government of the Republic of Mali has decided to declare the ECOWAS special representative in Mali persona non grata, in view of his actions that are incompatible with his status," according to a government statement broadcast on state television on Monday.

Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told state television that Boly "engaged with groups and individuals, from civil society as well as the political world and even the world of the press, who undertake activities hostile to the transition" back to democratic government.

He urged ECOWAS to name a new representative to Bamako "who is aware of the limits of their mandate".

Political turmoil

The expulsion comes at a time of growing pressure on Mali's military rulers to return power to civilians.

The country slid into political turmoil last year, culminating in a putsch led by Colonel Assimi Goita in August 2020 against president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Under the threat of sanctions, the military then appointed an interim civilian government tasked with steering the country back to democratic rule.

But Goita overthrew the leaders of that interim government in May –– in a second putsch –– and was later declared interim president himself, drawing international condemnation.

Both the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations have insisted on swift elections to restore civilian rule.

Insurgency 

Mali's interim government has said that it will set an election date after holding a "national forum on rebuilding" in December.

Interim Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga told reporters on Sunday, after a meeting with UN representatives, that security is the "highest priority", however.

Swathes of the vast nation of 19 million people lie outside of government control because of a militant insurgency that first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the centre of the country, as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Source: AFP