West African leaders have ended a long summit in Mali without a deal to soothe the country’s escalating political crisis.
Five of the region’s leaders 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.
They will hold a virtual extraordinary summit on Monday to propose measures to end the deepening political crisis in Mali.
The presidents from five West African countries held talks all day with various parties to bring an end to the political stalemate that has rocked the country and raised fears that it could undermine a regional fight against terrorists.
Infuriated by corruption, disputed local election results and army losses to insurgents, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks, sparking clashes with police in which the United Nations says at least 14 protesters have died this month.
The opposition, a group called M5-RFP whose figurehead is Saudi-trained Muslim cleric Mahmoud Dicko, has said it will not quit until President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita steps down, raising concerns in neighbouring countries of a protracted crisis.
Malians are also incensed at the disputed outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections in March and April that handed victory to Keita’s party.
The summit came on the heels of a five-day mediation mission from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which ended on Sunday without reconciling the two sides.