Guinea’s ruling Committee for National Restoration has dissociated the country from the unprecedented financial, economic and border blockage imposed on Mali by ECOWAS on 9 January.
There is reported intense power game playing out at the UN Security Council pitting France/Western allies against Russia/China over Mali, while the military-dominated Interim Authority in Bamako has called for a nationwide demonstration on Friday against what it called “extreme sanctions” imposed by ECOWAS on the country with some 19 million people.
Apart from the declared Guinean solidarity with Mali, Algeria, another Malian neighbour is believed to have also thrown its weight behind Mali.
The Guinea ruling Committee in a Communique recalled that ECOWAS suspended Guinea from all regional institutions in September 2021 following a military coup that month.
Consequently, the Committee said that Guinea could therefore not associate itself with the regional sanctions, adding that the country’s land, sea and air borders would remain open to all friendly nations in line with Pan-African solidarity.
The Communique further said that Guinea would continue to respect all international agreements and obligations.
There are also unconfirmed reports that the Col. Assimi Goita-led Bamako regime could demand the withdrawal of ECOWAS member States’ personnel from the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA.
ECOWAS nations and Chad account for about 70% of the MINUSMA personnel. The UN Mission has been in Mali since 2013 as part of the international fight against terrorism, albeit without much success.
Algeria, in an effort to keep terrorists and armed jihadists outside its territory has a vested interest in the political stability of Mali. Algiers hosted the signing of the Peace Accord by Malian protagonists in 2015.
Like Mali, Guinea is under military rule following the coup that toppled the government of elected President Alpha Conde in September 2021 after changing the national constitution to elongate his tenure.
The Col Mamady Doumbouya-led ruling military Committee in Conakry has yet to announce a transition timetable, ignoring ECOWAS’ six-month timeline given to it.
Some critics believe that the ECOWAS unprecedented blockage of Mali was instigated by Paris to punish the junta for daring to lean towards another super power for military support.
France, which has made no secret of its opposition to Russian military presence in Mali is currently reducing its forces supporting the fight against terrorism and insurrections in the Sahel region including Mali.
The Mali junta accuses France of abandonment and defends the country’s sovereign rights to seek support from any quarters to deal with insecurity crippling the nation.
Meanwhile, it was reported that before the ECOWAS Sunday summit in Accra, the Col. Goita-led junta had suggested a modified 24-month transition timetable, which was dismissed because the Francophone Economic and Monetary Union UEMOA, had already taken a “common position” against Mali.
Furthermore, the fact that Mali’s military agreement continues to figure in ECOWAS Communiqués is considered unprecedented and leaves many wondering why ECOWAS would join France in questioning a member State’s bilateral defence pact.
After 60 years of independence, African countries cannot continue to blame foreign powers for interference or their woes.
African leaders and their bad governance are the continent’s major problem.
Unfortunately, the once internationally acclaimed ECOWAS appears to be losing the capacity for independent decision and moral authority. This could mark the beginning of an end to its relevance.
Military rule remains an aberration. But only good governance not sanctions, will guarantee democracy in Mali and Africa as a whole.
African leaders must play by the rules to deliver good governance and the citizens must rise to their civic responsibilities by demanding accountability.
*Paul Ejime is a Global Affairs Analyst and an Independent Consultant to International Organizations on Corporate Strategic Communications, Peace & Security and Elections.