Senegal’s President Macky Sall (L), newly appointed as the Chairperson of the African Union (AU), attends the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on February 5, 2022. (Photo by Amanuel Sileshi / AFP)

As the ECOWAS mediator on Mali is due to make a fresh hop to Bamako, Senegalese President Macky Sall said he favours a negotiated solution out of the embargo currently imposed on Senegal’s neighbour by the regional grouping.

By Oumar Dembélé 

The heads of state of the sub-regional organization want to renew their ties with Bamako.

By imposing heavy political and economic sanctions against Mali on January 9, they thought they were making the right decision in view of the military’s intention to remain in power for a maximum of five years before handing over.

Two months have passed and Bamako is still not flinching despite the heavy sanctions, which include the closure of borders with Ecowas members except Guinea.

To avoid a deterioration in relations, mediator Goodluck Jonathan, former president of Nigeria, took up his pilgrim’s staff at the end of February to bring the positions of the Bamako authorities and those of ECOWAS closer together.

At the end of his visit, he noted the “willingness of the Malian transitional authorities to continue dialogue with ECOWAS.”

On Thursday, he is leaving again on a mission, bearing a message from the heads of state of the sub-regional grouping, including the Senegalese Macky Sall, who met with the Malian head of the transition beforehand.

“On the eve of the ECOWAS mediator’s visit to Bamako, I met today with Colonel Assimi Goïta, President of the Malian transition. I support the resumption of dialogue for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Mali,” the current chairman of the African Union (AU) tweeted.

Through this new visit by Jonathan, Ecowas hopes to “find a consensual date and timetable for elections (for) the remainder of the transition.”

The mediator will try to reach a “compromise with the Malian authorities on a roadmap to end the crisis.”

However, the latter seem to be more focused on securing the country, much of it plagued by jihadist violence.

On February 21, the National Transitional Council (CNT), the legislative body controlled by the military since the August 2020 coup against the regime of the late Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, adopted the revised draft transitional charter.

It now allows Colonel Assimi Goïta to remain in power until 2027, a period that Ecowas found “totally unacceptable.”