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ECOWAS court demands Mali explain detention of ex-leaders

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Mali’s transitional President Bah Ndaw arrives at the Grand Palais Ephemere for the Financing of African Economies Summit, at the Champs de Mars in Paris, France May 18, 2021. Ian Langsdon/Pool via REUTERS

The court of justice of the West Africa bloc ECOWAS has demanded that Mali justify the alleged detention of ex-leaders Moctar Ouane and Bah Ndaw, a lawyer for the two men said Friday.

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Ouane and Ndaw were respectively appointed the interim prime minister and president of Mali following a military putsch in August 2020 led by Colonel Assimi Goita.

As leaders of a post-coup transitional government, they were tasked with steering the troubled Sahel state back to civilian rule by February 2020.

But in May, Goita deposed Ouane and Ndaw after a government reshuffle following a second coup. The army strongman was later declared interim president himself.

The current whereabouts of Ouane and Ndaw are unknown, but they are believed to be under house arrest in Mali.

Mamadou Ismaila Konate, a lawyer representing the former leaders, said on social media on Friday that his clients had appealed to the court of justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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He also shared a court order demanding that Mali’s government “explain the violations of the rights and freedoms” of Ouane and Ndaw by August 28.

“The State of Mali is requested in this case to remove all legal and de facto barriers to the exercise of their rights,” Konate told AFP.

Goita has pledged to stage elections in February next year.

There are doubts about whether the government will be able to hold elections within such a short time frame, however.

Mali has been struggling to quell a brutal jihadist insurgency which emerged in 2012, for example, which has left swathes of the vast country outside of government control.

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