Mali’s transitional government has given the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) special representative 72 hours to leave the country following “actions incompatible with his status”, the foreign ministry said.
“The government of the Republic of Mali has decided to declare the ECOWAS special representative in Mali persona non grata, in view of his actions that are incompatible with his status,” a government statement broadcast on state television said on Monday.
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ECOWAS, West Africa’s main political and economic bloc, has been pressing Mali to respect its commitment to hold presidential and legislative elections next February following an August 2020 military coup.
It is not clear what triggered the expulsion of Hamidou Boly. However, it came at a time of growing pressure on Mali’s military rulers to return power to civilians.
Mali slid into political turmoil last year, culminating in a coup led by Colonel Assimi Goita in August last year against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Under the threat of sanctions, the military then appointed an interim civilian government tasked with steering the country back to democratic rule.
But Goita overthrew the leaders of that interim government in May – in a second coup – and was later declared interim president himself, drawing international condemnation.
Both the 15-nation ECOWAS and the United Nations have insisted on swift elections to restore civilian rule.
Mali’s interim government has said that it will set an election date after holding a “nation forum on rebuilding” in December.
Interim Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga told reporters on Sunday, after a meeting with UN representatives, that security is the “highest priority”, however.
Swaths of the vast nation of 19 million people lie outside of government control because of an armed uprising that first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the centre of the country, as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.