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The military junta in Mali has unveiled a new constitution that puts the
country in the hands of an ad-hoc commission. Nearly two-thirds of the
commission's 42 members are from the military.
This is even as the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS
announced the suspension of Mali from its fold.
Meanwhile the new constitution exempts all members of the junta and the ad
hoc commission from future prosecution. None will be able to run in
upcoming elections, the date for which has not been set.
The junta has re-opened land and air borders, lifted a curfew and called on
Malians to return to work.
Soldiers ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure just weeks before the
presidential election that would have marked his retirement from office.
The soldiers were angry that the government had not properly equipped them
to fight Tuareg rebels in the north. The army had suffered several bitter
defeats and numerous casualties since the insurgency kicked off in January.
The fighting has displaced as many as 200,000 people.
Many Malians, even those against the coup, say they share the junta's
frustration at President Toure's perceived disregard for insecurity in the north
that has allowed drug traffickers and al-Qaida-linked terrorists to set up shop
in recent years. A delegation of Chiefs of Defense Staff from the Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will travel to Mali Wednesday
to inform the military junta ECOWAS wants the country returned to
ECOWAS spokesman Sonny Ugoh said the military delegation is expected
to be followed later in the week by another delegation comprising six
ECOWAS heads of state.
Tuesday, ECOWAS suspended Mali’s membership in the regional group
following last week’s military coup d’that toppled democratically elected
President Amadou Toumani Touré.
Ugoh said ECOWAS is sending a message to the junta in Mali that there is
no reward for military escapades.
“It’s one of the basic things we do when you have this kind of intrusion by the
military into governance, and it is in the spirit of our commitment to our
regional protocol and democracy and governance through which we insist on
zero tolerance for power opting through any other means apart from [the]
democratic process,” he said.
Ugoh said the military delegation will deliver a strong message from
ECOWAS’s about the military takeover.
“Beyond this suspension, tomorrow, a delegation of Chiefs of Defense Staff is
heading there [Mali] with the mandate to sensitize the junta on the need to
return to constitutional rule and to intimate them of further consequences that
the region intends to impose on them should they refuse to heed the
provision of regional leaders,” Ugoh said.
He said the heads of state agree to activate the ECOWAS standby force to
send a stronger message that the region may consider the use of force if the
junta in Bamako refuses to restore democracy.
“We believe that they will see the handwriting on the wall. We believe that
they will understand the gravity of the situation and the enormity of what
confronts them,” he said.
Ugoh said a delegation of ECOWAS heads state is expected in Bamako
later in the week as part of an overall regional effort to engage the junta
leaders in Mali and to put pressure on the military leaders.
He said the regional leaders also discussed the possibility of applying
“One of the prospects that they discussed is the possibility of a travel ban on
members of the junta. We want make them as uncomfortable as possible.
We want to demonstrate to them that there can be no reward for this kind of
behavior, not just in their own case, but also as an example to others who
might want to tow this line of adventurism, to discourage such behavior,”
Ugoh said it is not fair to compare the role of ECOWAS peacekeepers in
Ivory Coast during that country’s conflict in 2010. He said ECOWAS has the
resolve to deal with peace and security in the sub-region.
“The French, who intervened in the case of Cote d’Ivoire, did say that they did
so at the behest of the UN, and the UN has primary responsibility for peace
[and] stability in the whole world, West Africa included. So, if indeed some
power has been able to resolve the situation within the responsibility of the
UN, I don’t think it would be fair enough to condemn a region,” Ugoh said.
Mali's military junta unveils new constitution,
faces ECOWAS sanction
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