African Union urges Mali to provide post-coup transition 'roadmap'

Mali The African Union suspended Mali in June 2021.  By Sophie RAMIS, Vincent LEFAI AFP
The African Union suspended Mali in June 2021. By Sophie RAMIS, Vincent LEFAI (AFP)

The African Union on Saturday urged Mali to provide a post-coup transition 'roadmap', saying the move was needed to steer the country back to democratic rule.

Earlier this week Mali's military junta ordered the suspension of all political activities -- citing a need to maintain public order -- and the African Union expressed "grave concern" at the move, saying it was likely to hinder the return to democracy.

Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga, appointed by the military colonels who overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020, said Thursday evening that elections will only be held once the country, which is facing a serious security crisis, has stabilised.

Mali's leaders have faced domestic and international criticism raised since the military failed to meet its commitments to hold the presidential election in February and then to step down.

On Thursday the junta also banned media coverage of political parties, as the colonels extended their crackdown on dissent in the West African nation.

In a statement, AU chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed "grave concern" at the latest developments, saying he was "calling on the authorities to reconsider this decision and work on a road map aiming at completing the ongoing transition process."

He warned that suspending parties and political associations threatened to "hinder the implementation of an inclusive transition process in the country".

The AU head underlined "the Organisation's willingness to work with the transitional authorities and all Malian stakeholders to restore constitutional order, within the prescribed time frame, with a view to promoting lasting peace, stability and development in Mali".

The bloc suspended Mali in June 2021.

Mali has since 2012 has been plagued by rising jihadism amid a serious security, political and humanitarian crisis.

Since taking power, the junta has undertaken a strategic reorientation, breaking off its long alliance with former colonial power France and fostering closer military and political ties with Russia.

Under pressure from regional bloc ECOWAS, the junta had promised to hold elections and hand power back to civilians by March 26, but no vote was organised.

The United Nations on Thursday voiced alarm at the junta's move to suspend political activities, with the US State Department echoing the criticism and calling for elections.

The junta last year ordered the withdrawal of the UN stabilisation mission MINUSMA and in January ended a 2015 peace agreement with separatist groups in the north.

Neighbouring Sahel states Burkina Faso and Niger also underwent military coups in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

The three countries have all pledged to leave ECOWAS in favour of their own Sahel alliance.