By Vatican News
In Mali, opponents of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita have rejected proposals by the Economic Community of West Africa – ECOWAS – to end a political crisis that has been brewing since early June.
The conflict was precipitated by contested local elections, although it has deeper roots, including the government’s inability to bring an end to violence in the northern and central parts of the country.
Opposition groups say the latest proposals from ECOWAS do not differ significantly from earlier plans, which had previously been rejected.
Tens of thousands of people have been demonstrating against the government since the nation’s Constitutional Court in June overturned the results of 31 parliamentary elections. The decision of the court benefited the party of President Keita. Since protests began in June, at least 14 people have been killed, according to the United Nations.
ECOWAS, a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa, is calling for the resignation of the 31 disputed members of parliament, and for new elections to be held. The proposals also call for the creation of a unity government, to include members of the opposition; and an inquiry into the deaths of protestors.
The bloc has recommended the implementation of its plan within ten days, with sanctions for those who stand in the way.
However, ECOWAS has said regional leaders will not accept a forced resignation of Keita, one of the opposition’s key demands.
ECOWAS has “minimized our concerns, at a time when we are going through a crisis of governance,” said Choguel Maiga, one of the opposition leaders. “Malians want a change at this level,” he added.
It is unclear how the opposition will respond going forward. Protests in the majority Muslim country have been put on hold until after the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha, which ends on the evening of 31 July.