The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called on Mali to re-run the disputed elections and to convene a government of national unity after anti-government protests in the country, Reuters reported.
Tens of thousands of people reportedly took to the streets to demand President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to step down, for the second time on Friday.
The protests were coming after campaigns by civil society organisations and influential cleric in the country, Mahmoud Dicko.
Police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the protesters that include a coalition of opposition in the country. They accuse the president of corruption and a nonchalant response to insecurity.
ECOWAS Calls for Elections Re-Run in Mali As Protesters Demand President To Resign
President Keita was re-elected in 2018 for the second term and is facing serious security challenges and lack of resources to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The country struggles with unrests with many jihadi groups roaming the north of the desert and political tensions sweeping many parts of the country.
Mali has been struggling with instability since 2012 when Tuareg separatists seized the north and other groups linking to Al-Qaeda.
The main Islamist groups in the country include Ansar Deen, Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, Al-Qa’eda in Maghreb (AQIM), and Islamic Movement for Azawad.
The disputed elections were conducted in March with low turnouts, intimidations, vote-buying and the fear of jihadists in the area. The opposition leader Soumaila Cisse was also kidnapped at the time.
ECOWAS “invites the Government of the Republic of Mali to reconsider the results of all the districts which have been subject to review”.
The Community called for “New elections for the constituencies concerned should be organized as soon as possible.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the parties to calm down and consider dialogue after some opposition politicians called for civil disobedience during the Friday’s protests.
“The Secretary-General calls on all political leaders to send clear messages to their supporters to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action likely to fuel tensions,” said Farhan Haq, a deputy spokesman for Guterres, as reported by Reuters.