Weekly ECOWAS Region Updates – Cape Verde and Mali

Political Dynamics in Cape Verde

Presidential elections: Opposition emerges winner

Amidst the seeming resurgence of military involvement in politics in West Africa and the Sahel regions, Cabo Verde, a nation of multiple islands with a reputation for political stability held its presidential election on the 17th of October. Below are the candidates:

Although the election was marked by a great level of abstention in São Vicente, Santo Antão, Fogo, Boa Vista and Maio[14],  there was a huge influx of voters at Achada Grande Frente, in the city of Praia. Former prime minister (2000-2016) Jose Maria Neves, 61, of the opposition African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), defeated his main rival from the ruling party MpD, former Prime Minister Carlos Veiga, 72, with more than 51% in the voting ring, with results as follows: Jose Maria Neves – 51.74%, Carlos Veiga – 42.37%, Casimiro de Pina 1.81%, Fernando  Rocha Delgado 1.36%, Helio Sanches 1.14%, Gilson Alves 0.84, Joaquim Monteiro 0.74%. The National Electoral Commission, CNE, registered a total of 398,864 voters from an estimated population of 550,000 people on the Islands’ nation and in the diaspora, with a turn-out of 48.2%.

Accordingly, Veiga conceded to his defeat and congratulated Neves as the winner. And on October 22, CNE formally declared opposition leader José Maria Pereira Neves, 61, as the winner of the October 17 presidential election with 51.75% or 95,974 of the valid votes[15].

As a member of the PAICV, Neves has had several shots at the presidency, majorly in 1997 and in 2000 but lost at both attempts. He ended up a Prime Minister in 2001. Some of his achievements includes the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and the signing of a “Special Treaty” with the European Union in 2002, the initiation of moves that eventually made Cabo Verde a member of the regional bloc ECOWAS, etc. His outstanding economic and political policies won him second and third terms as Prime Minister finishing in 2016. And eventually, taking a third shot at the presidency, he finally won to become Cabo Verde’s fifth President. His swearing-in is due in the first week of November.

Below is the distribution of votes:

The Cape Verdian peaceful, very calm and violence-free election possesses lots of governance takeaways and lessons that other African countries can draw from. This also reflects the steady growth of the country when compared to the other ECOWAS Member States.

President-elect meets with the head of Government

The elected President of the Republic, José Maria Neves, visited the Government Palace on October 22[16], after his formal recognition as the president-in-waiting. The purpose of his visit was to reiterate to the Prime Minister his willingness to collaborate with the executive in order to find the best solutions for the country. José Maria Nves also seized the opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister and Government on the vaccination campaign carried out throughout the country, expressing hopes of reaching the entire population by the end of the year, and then rebuilding the country, creating jobs, fighting poverty and inequalities and accelerating the pace of modernization in the country. He also affirmed during the meeting that Cape Verde can count on him to ensure stability as he will do everything in his power to ensure political, institutional, social stability and with great balance and serenity and great responsibility for Cape Verde to globally return to normality after the pandemic. On plans for his main counterpart, he hopes to be able to count on the support and effective collaboration of Dr Carlos Veiga and other candidates in the next five years of this Presidency.

Health Matters

COVID-19: 10 new cases and 1 death

Amidst the elections and after several days without COVID related deaths, health authorities announced on October 22, a new death in Praia. As of this date, there were also 10 new positive cases across the country in a total of 500 samples analyzed in the last 24 hours. These new cases were registered in Praia (5), São Miguel (1), Ribeira Grande de Santo Antão (1), Porto Novo (2) and Ribeira Brava (1)[17].

Fortunately, 23 patients were considered recovered (Praia 4, São Domingos 2, Santa Catarina 1, São Miguel 2, Santa Cruz 2, São Vicente 2, Sal 1 and Ribeira Brava 9). The country now counts 333 active cases, 37,403 recovered cases, 348 deaths, 15 deaths from other causes and 9 transferred, making a total of 38,108 positive cases accumulated.

Recommendations

  • The serenity surrounding the political climate in Cape Verde should be emulated by other States. No record of violence or conflicts during the campaigns of the elections. The election was also conducted in a free and fair manner leading to the emergence of the opposition as the winner.

Political Dynamics in Mali

February 2022 elections: ECOWAS delegation seeks assurance

The transition government on October 17 received the ECOWAS delegation led by the current ECOWAS Chairman and Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo[18]. The mission of the delegation was to reinforce and remind the government that elections announced for February must go ahead on schedule. An ECOWAS delegation will return to Bamako at the end of October with the hope of receiving the assurances they seek.

In a similar development, the members of the UN Security Council will also be in the country for a push to return to civilian power after two military coups in nine months, and to support the efforts of regional organizations like ECOWAS[19]. The UN delegates will be led by the French ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Riviere along with Niger’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdou Abarry.

Given the fragility of the violence-stricken country, coupled with the impact of climate change and good governance and other humanitarian issues, there is need to stabilize he country and discuss how to support the efforts of the G5 Sahel countries to ensure their security. These constitute the mission of the proposed visit.

Risks on Security and Societal Dynamics

The security situation in Mali seems to be worsening by the day. To abate the deteriorating security situations, the transition is seeking for every possible help and solution. Major highlights on security issues in Mali within the period under review include:

Negotiation with Al Qaeda

In a bid to bring an end to the decade long conflict, the transition government asked the High Islamic Council to open peace talks with leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) group[20]. Defending this stride which is against the French’s stand in conducting joint operations with countries negotiating with Islamic militants, the Religious Affairs Minister Mamadou Kone, has insisted that the move is a popular demand, made by the overwhelming majority of the Malian population even before the transition. Hence, the government’s desire to negotiate with all radical Malian groups, including Iyad Ag Ghali and Amadou Koufa, which are most active in Central Mali and the target of French bombing campaigns.

Reacting to the demand, Moufa Haidara, in charge of negotiations within the Council confirmed his group had been tasked to find a compromise, between Malians, so that the war stops throughout the country. With previously existing channels of talks, created during mediation talks in Central Mali’s Niono Circle that led to a peace accord in March between JNIM militants and traditional hunters, positive outcomes are expected.

Who is the sponsor of Wagner?

With the ensuing power tussle between now independent francophone countries and their former coloniser, the establishment of Wagner, a private Russian security group, has become a bone of contention.  Amongst the propositions made concerning Wagner’s arrival in Mali is the one that it is sponsored by Algeria. The allegation has however been denied by the Algerian government, refuting it as French propaganda[21]. This came in response to an exclusive report published on Algerie Part[22] claiming that Algeria had entered negotiations with Malian authorities to contribute to the financing part of a deal between Mali’s government and the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organisation.

It can be recalled that Algeria supported the departure of the Wagner group from Libya years ago. And with the brawl between world powers – France and Russian – and between France and Algeria, the discord over the presence of Wagner in Mali is understandable. While one is certain that Mali struck a deal with the private Russian company to help battle extremist groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State active in the Sahel region, what is unsure of is the existence of supposed supporting sponsor (s).

From the Russian end, at a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in the resort city of Sochi in southern Russia, the Russian president admitted the presence of Russian private military companies in Mali[23], claiming that military contractors could be active in guarding mining operations in the West African country. Indicating that it is a private business, private interest, with relations to the extraction of energy resources and other resources, he also stressed that as private companies, private military companies do not represent the interests of the Russian state and are not deployed by Russian authorities.

With the presence of the Wagner and the arrival of the Lithuanian troops beckoned by France[24], one can only hope that there won’t be a clash, thus heightening the insecurity in the country.

A Malian woman killed by the French army during operation

The French military has confirmed the killing of a Malian woman suspected of belonging to a terrorist crew. The incident occurred on October 18 during a Franco-Malian reconnaissance mission after elements of an armed terror group were detected in the Gossi region. As the report states[25], two individuals, suspected to be terrorists on motorcycles carrying a weapon and ammunition were detected by French soldiers. Sighting the soldiers, they deserted the motorcycle and fled, leaving behind an assault rifle, ammunition and a military bag. This led to a chase by the soldiers who fired warning shots to stop them. Eventually, a neutralization shot was fired at one, only to be discovered that she was a woman. Although the body was not identified, it was buried and investigations have been initiated to shed light on the incident.

Recommendations

  • The security situation in Mali is beyond regional. With the connections and links of the terrorist groups to other African nations, the long-lasting solutions to these perennial security challenges should not be only kinetic. The efforts of the ruling junta at initiating negotiations should also be looked into and given adequate consideration, regionally and internationally.
  • As regards elections, persistent efforts should be exerted at ensuring that the scheduled election for next year takes place. This would include drawing up a feasible timeline and election timetable. The regional election mission can ensure this is promptly done.

[1] Abstention dominates presidential https://www.anacao.cv/noticia/2021/10/17/abstencao-domina-presidenciais/

[2] https://www.asemana.publ.cv/?CNE-proclama-Jose-Maria-Neves-vencedor-das-eleicoes-presidenciais&ak=1

[3] President-elect meets with the head of Government to reiterate his willingness to collaborate with the executive https://www.asemana.publ.cv/?Presidente-eleito-encontra-se-com-o-chefe-do-Governo-para-lhe-reiterar-sua&ak=1

[4] https://expressodasilhas.cv/pais/2021/10/22/um-obito-e-10-novos-casos-de-covid-19/77178

[5] https://www.africanews.com/2021/10/18/ecowas-delegation-visits-mali-seeks-assurance-on-elections/

[6] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-10112119/UN-Security-Council-visit-Sahel-weekend-demand-civilian-power-Mali.html

[7] https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/mali-asks-muslim-body-to-negotiate-with-al-qaeda-affiliate/2397028

[8] https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/algeria-denies-funding-wagner-group-mercenaries-mali

[9] https://www.algeriepartplus.com/exclusif-lalgerie-negocie-avec-la-junte-malienne-pour-financer-une-partie-de-laccord-de-securite-avec-les-militaires-russes-de-wagner/

[10] https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/putin-admits-presence-of-russian-private-military-companies-in-mali/2399400

[11] https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1522926/lithuania-heeds-call-from-france-agrees-to-send-troops-and-aircraft-to-mali

[12] https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/french-army-kills-malian-woman-during-operation/2396993

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