West African leaders have ended a day-long summit in Mali on Thursday without a deal to soothe the country’s escalating political crisis.
Five of the region’s leaders including President Buhari met Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation, as a long-running jihadist insurgency threatens to throw the country into chaos.
However, the intervention failed to seal a deal and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou — at the talks along with the leaders of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria — said Western African bloc ECOWAS would hold a summit on Monday, with the hope of reaching a compromise between the warring factions.
One of the protest leaders, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, after holding talks with the presidents said; “Nothing has moved for the movement”.
As the West African leaders arrived on Thursday morning in Mali, including special envoy to lead the mediation mission, former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, a small group of demonstrators gathered outside the airport.
Yaya Sylla, a young protester, using the acronym by which Mali’s leader is known, said;
We are here to demand IBK’s resignation and ensure our comrades who have been killed are not forgotten.
The June 5 Movement, named after the date when the protests began, are angered over Keita’s perceived failure to tackle the dire economy, corruption and the eight-year jihadist revolt.
Malians are also aggrieved at the disputed outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections in March and April that handed victory to Keita’s party.
Keita, who came to power in 2013, has come under increasing pressure to end Mali’s long-running jihadist conflict.
The poor nation of about 20 million people has been struggling to contain an insurgency that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since 2012, despite the presence of foreign troops.
In the latest violence, a French soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in northern Mali on Thursday, according to France’s presidency and the French army.