CW 22/2021: On the tipping point?
Press Review 29 May 2021 to 4 June 2021

AU and ECOWAS suspend Mali 

The African Union (AU) temporarily suspended Mali from all its activities last Wednesday until constitutional order is restored in the West African country. Last Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Mali’s membership in the wake of the May 24 military coup. The African Union Security Council (PSC) strongly condemned the military coup in a resolution published Tuesday. In addition, the AU announced further sanctions against the West African country if the military junta refuses to cede power to a transitional civilian government. In addition to the AU, ECOWAS also called for a rapid return to a process legitimized by the rule of law. Representatives of the two regional organizations also demanded the immediate lifting of the house arrest, under which, removed interim President Bah N’Daw and former Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, are now held following their release from military prison (DAS Press Review week 21). Last Friday, Mali’s Constitutional Court ruled that coup leader Assimi Goïta should assume the duties of Mali’s head of state in the future. Next Wednesday, Choguel Kokala Maïga, another rebel leader from the M5-RFP protest movement, will officially be appointed as the new head of government. The French government drew the first reactions on Thursday, suspending all of its joint military operations with the Malian military, for the time being. France has 5,100 troops stationed in the region and is demanding an immediate return to the agreed transition process.


Elections in Somaliland

On Monday, Somaliland held parliamentary and local council elections for the seventh time since its unofficial secession from Somalia. The population was called to elect 82 new members of parliament from nearly 250 candidates and a total of 249 local councillors from about 1,000 candidates. The results are expected over the weekend. Meanwhile, voter turnout was only 35%. The elections themselves had already been postponed and now took place ten years later. In total, only three parties are represented by MPs in parliament, a rule designed to prevent individual clans from exerting influence through links with political parties. Moreover, the current elections are not only intended to advance the democratic process, but also to promote the issue of gender equality in Somaliland’s male-dominated society. A quota of one-third women for political office had already been introduced in the past. The region in northwestern Somalia declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after the fall of Siad Barré. The self-proclaimed republic hopes to gain international recognition after all by holding peaceful and democratic elections in a very unstable region of Africa. However, this would first have to be initiated by the African Union before the rest of the international community could follow. The orderly elections are in stark contrast to Somalia, to which Somaliland officially belongs, and where no “one man, one vote” elections have been held for 50 years. After riots broke out in the country when Somalia’s current president tried to extend his mandate for another two years, without elections, the Somali government announced on Thursday that it would hold the elections, which had been postponed since February, within 60 days.


In other news

With his fashion label Pathe’O, the Ivorian-Burkinabe dressmaker, Pathe Ouedraogo, has gone from being the “tailor next door” to an African fashion icon. The 70-year-old’s haute couture creations have been worn by personalities such as Nelson Mandela, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, and the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame. Ouedraogo opened his first shop 50 years ago and now employs more than 60 people in over ten African countries. His big goal is to put the African continent in the sights of the international fashion world and thus establish African fashion as an independent branch of industry that can contribute to development. His fashion label has already succeeded in this: In December 2020, he cooperated with the renowned French label Dior.

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