Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan who has just being appointed as ECOWAS’ Special Envoy to Mali began his mediation efforts to find a solution to the political crisis in the country as soon as he arrived Bamako Wednesday evening, by meeting with critical stakeholders including President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, leaders of the opposition and heads of international organisations.
Dr. Jonathan’s effort may have begun to bear fruits as leaders of the Malian opposition alliance that demands President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s resignation called off a high-risk scheduled protest, soon after the former President met with the influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, a popular cleric and prominent force behind the protest movement. A spokesman for the June 5 Movement, organisers of the demonstration initially set for Friday, stated that they decided to transform the protest into memorial services to be held only in mosques for victims killed in violence last week.
Dr. Jonathan met with Dicko and other critical stakeholders for several hours yesterday night after meeting with President Keita in his official residence earlier in the evening. He continued his consultations early Thursday by meeting with the main opposition known as M5-RFP, with other consultations scheduled to follow later in the day. The June 5 Movement is an alliance of political, social and civil-society leaders who are loyal to imam Dicko.
Upon arrival Wednesday evening Jonathan, in an interview with newsmen at the airport, sued for cooperation from different Malian stakeholders, charging them to remain purposeful and patriotic as efforts are made towards resolving the crisis in the country. The Jonathan-led mission from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is mandated to mediate the escalating political crisis.
Since leaving office in 2015, Jonathan has been involved in peace mediations in many countries and has continued to lead several electoral observation missions for many international organisations including the Commonwealth and the African Union.
Mali’s international allies have continued to express concern over the on going crisis, given the country’s poverty, ethnic mix and strategic location at the heart of the Sahel region. Many Malians are however hopeful that the efforts currently being made by President Jonathan, given his records in office and peaceful disposition, could help restore calm in the troubled nation.
In a message issued by its embassy in Bamako, the United States urged all sides to show restraint and “commit to a rejection of any extra-constitutional changes of government”. It also welcomed the arrival of the ECOWAS delegation.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is facing anger over dire economic conditions, Mali’s worsening jihadist insurgency and the outcome of recent parliamentary elections.
Three days of clashes with the security forces left 11 dead and 158 injured, according to an official tally — Mali’s bloodiest toll from political unrest in years. Keita has however made several gestures toward the June 5 Movement, including the dissolution of the Constitutional Court in search of solution on the contested seats.
ECOWAS had last month sent a mission of foreign minister to Mali which made some recommendations and prepared ground for the current mediation led by President Jonathan.