ECOWAS’ special envoy led by Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has arrived Mali for talks with the military junta that has overthrown the elected government of the nation.
The delegation arrived hours after four Malian soldiers were killed in an explosion near the Burkina Faso border, underscoring the insecurity in the troubled nation.
The ECOWAS delegation, headed by Jonathan, arrived at the international airport in the capital, Bamako, just hours after four Malian soldiers were killed near the Burkina Faso border when an explosive device detonated as their vehicle drove by, according to a military source.
The explosion in the central Koro region came days after rebel soldiers seized President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita after a mutiny, dealing another blow to a country struggling with a brutal Islamist insurgency and widespread public discontent over its government.
Mali’s neighbours have called for Keïta to be reinstated, saying the purpose of the delegation’s visit was to help “ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.
France 24 quoted an ECOWAS delegation official as saying that they would meet members of the junta and later Keïta, who is being held with Malian Prime Minister Boubou Cissé in Kati, a military base northwest of Bamako where the coup was unleashed.
Also, Jonathan, on his twitter handle said “We arrived in Bamako this afternoon to continue with the ECOWAS mediation & peace talks towards resolving Mali’s political crisis & restoring normalcy in this beautiful West African country. We’ll continue to engage Malian stakeholders until lasting peace is found.”
Adding to the international pressure, the US on Friday suspended military aid to Mali, with no further training or support of the Mali armed forces.
“Let me say categorically there is no further training or support of Malian armed forces full-stop. We have halted everything until such time as we can clarify the situation,” the US Sahel envoy J. Peter Pham told journalists.
The US regularly provides training to soldiers in Mali, including several of the officers who led the coup. It also offers intelligence support to France’s Barkhane forces, who are fighting jihadist groups in the Sahel region.