The demand of the West African community of states Ecowas has been met prima vista: a civilian should head the Malian transitional government. Only on this condition is Ecowas prepared to consider lifting the sanctions against the coup government that has been in office since August 18. Mali has had a civilian president since Friday. However, one with a military past. The 70-year-old Ba Ndaw is a retired colonel and last served as Minister of Defense in 2014. During this time he signed the military assistance agreement between Mali and France, which is still in force today, which is now likely to meet his international acceptance.
It is clear that it is not Ndaw, but the previous junta chief Assimi Goïta, who remains in power as the current vice president. The Vice-President is responsible for security, defense and the establishment of a new state, which is to lead to a new constitution and, ultimately, elections within 18 months.
It is not yet clear whether the Ecowas and France will be satisfied with the moves made by the military junta. There are, however, some reasons for this. France fears even more instability in the Sahel region. Paris has already been ready to make all sorts of compromises to the detriment of democratic standards in Mali or even to cooperate with the military regime in Chad in its fight against the Islamists. Nothing about that should change anytime soon. And the Ecowas should not fail to recognize that the coup was not least a reaction to the mass protests surrounding the opposition movement of June 5th and thus, if not legal, at least legitimate from the point of view of a large part of the population. Ecowas and France should give the transitional government and the start-up a chance. They cannot do more than fail either.