The military rulers of Mali have paid a courtesy call on Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, ostensibly to seek his advice on their current efforts to turn the fortune of their country around.
Speaking to the four-man delegation of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) led by its Chairman, Colonel Assimi Goïta, who is Mali’s interim head of state, on Tuesday, Rawlings urged the new leadership in Mali to use the transition period “to exhibit exceptional leadership for the country and usher her into a prosperous era”.
It was Colonel Goita’s first foreign trip since he seized power on 18 August.
The former Ghanaian leader warned the Malian military rulers to avoid falling into the trap of seeking personal gains as it’s often happened in Africa’s history of military officers seizing power to curb corruption and bad governance only to turn to corrupt despots themselves.
He therefore encouraged the transitional regime to govern with humility and diligence and inspire the people to fight and defy corruption and injustice.
Rawlings further urged the Malian leadership “to mobilise their people into taking up productive activity through a positive vision to boost the country’s development” while advising the coup leaders to empower and encourage the people to own their political space.
In reference to current efforts of the military leaders to fashion a new transition programme that will return Mali to civil rule, Rawlings called on the officers to improve on the quality of multiparty democracy that Western powers “have hung around our necks”.
“The level of corruption that has become an integral part of multiparty democracy has created a general climate of stress and tension that may destabilise some areas in our region. It is unfortunate that the world is being forced into multiparty democracy with corruption and violence rather than other forms of democratic practices with none or minimal corruption. Unfortunately, the West appears to favour corruptible political tendencies in order to continue to dominate our security and economy,” the former Ghanaian leader stated.
Former President Rawlings said his advice should be taken as an expression of ECOWAS leadership’s concerns about the situation in Mali while he was also sharing his own political experiences and observations.
Colonel Assimi Goïta, Mali’s military head of state, was accompanied by Colonel Ismaël Wagué, Major Talibe Konte and Captain Demba N’daw to former President Rawlings. Also present was the Malian Ambassador to Ghana, Abdoul Kader Toure.
The meeting with former President Rawlings took place after ECOWAS leaders had held an extraordinary meeting with the Malian leadership at Peduase in eastern Ghana to discuss political developments in Mali.
On Tuesday, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo held a consultative meeting on the political situation in Mali, his first assignment as Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.
The meeting, attended by Mali’s military regime led by Colonel Assimi Goïta, aims to bring finality to the deliberations on a transition programme for the return to democratic rule in Mali.
The 15-nation regional bloc imposed sanctions on Mali after the coup in August, including closing borders and a ban on trade and financial flows, and has called for elections within 12 months.
“My reason for this meeting is simple. We need to bring finality to our deliberations on Mali,” President Akufo-Addo said in an opening statement at a lodge in Peduase, Aburi, eastern Ghana. “That country can no longer afford any delay in putting a responsible government in place.”
The military regime had over the weekend proposed an 18-month transition government in which the junta would be given the leading role in choosing the interim president. The proposal has however been rejected by Mali’s opposition M5 movement, whose protests instigated the coup.
ECOWAS has yet to react to the transition roadmap and its original Tuesday deadline for Mali’s military regime to hand over power has come and gone. Regional heads of state met with Colonel Goïta and its team behind closed doors and sources say they put pressure on the officers to appoint a civilian-led transition government soonest.
Mali’s former president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 75, was toppled on 18 August after months of protests over an eight-year-old jihadist insurgency, economic problems and entrenched corruption in his government.
Last month’s coup is Mali’s fourth since gaining independence from France in 1960.
Kola Tella & Adira Kallo