Togo agrees to mediate in Mali political crisis

Two coups in as many years have precipitated a political crisis in Mali, where armed groups are also looking to grab power.

President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe
President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe is seen during the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government 54th Ordinary Session in Abuja, Nigeria December 22, 2018. [File: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe has agreed to act as a mediator in Mali’s political crisis as the West African country’s military government faces pressure to re-establish civilian rule, their foreign ministers have said.

Since August 2020 when the military seized power in the Sahel state, Mali has been in turmoil. There are ongoing negotiations within the administration over the length of time needed to restore constitutional order.

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop and his Togolese counterpart told reporters late Wednesday in Togo’s capital Lome that Gnassingbe had agreed to act as a facilitator in the crisis.

“We asked President Faure Gnassingbe to use his good office, wisdom and experience to facilitate dialogue with regional actors and more broadly dialogue with the entire international community,” Diop said.

“The situation we are in today requires that we show political genius about how to get out of this situation.”

Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey confirmed the offer was accepted.

Relations between the government and former colonial power France have also deteriorated, with Mali breaking off its defence accords with Paris on Monday, condemning “flagrant violations” of its national sovereignty by French troops.

Mali’s military government initially promised to restore civilian rule, but has been hit with sanctions after it failed to meet a commitment to the West African bloc ECOWAS to hold elections in February this year.

Military Spokesperson Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga reacted by saying that “the government of Mali strongly condemns these illegal and illegitimate sanctions”.

Diop said because of the security situation in Mali and the need for reforms, the country would need 24 months to return to constitutional order.

Mali’s military leader, Assimi Goita, first seized power in 2020 following protests over the government’s handling of a war against an offensive by armed groups in the country.

He staged another coup a year later to remove civilian leaders and was sworn in as interim president.

He has so far resisted international calls to hold elections.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies