Mali: ECOWAS faces testy situation as court sits Friday
By John Eche
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS faces a testy situation as the ECOWAS Court convenes on Friday to hear what is looking like a landmark suit challenging its decision to impose sanctions on the embattled Sahelian nation.
The suit, which is coming at the behest of two civic organisations is asking that the court declare as illegal and unlawful the decision of the Commission to impose sanctions on the country and order that compensation be awarded the country on the ground that the sanctions regime is hurting the country and its people.
Analysts say that if the court accedes to the request and rules in favour of the plaintiffs, it would establish a precedent in that ECOWAS and indeed other regional organisations may now be at risk of no longer being able to deploy what may have been considered as being their most effective tool yet in containing the threat of resurgent military rule in the sub-region.
Similar measures have been imposed on countries like Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the past.
And as if to compound the subject, ECOWAS has also been put on the spot with the choice of Bah Ndaw, a retired colonel and former Defence Minister as transitional government head in Mali. Ndaw is expected to be sworn in on Friday, and feelers are that since the Mali junta has technically satisfied the condition of announcing a civilian as head of the transition government, the commission may then be also forced to announce lifting of the sanctions imposed on the country.
Asked to comment on this, former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, who doubles as head of the ECOWAS mediation team sent to the country said he was waiting on Ghanaian president, Nana Akufo-Addo and ECOWAS to take the final decision and make the call.
However, political watchers say that should these situations play out and between the ECOWAS Court and the Heads of States, the decision is taken to accept Ndaw as head of the transitional government, the sub-region would indeed need new and stronger options to deal with what clearly would only have been a problem deferred.
President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana: Has to make the call