Credit: GIN photo

For the second time in a year, the governing body in Mali has been ousted in a military coup, leaving regional leaders scrambling to settle the political crisis and restore an elected government.

After an emergency weekend meeting held in Ghana, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) urged the Malian coup leaders to stick to a commitment to hold a presidential election next February.

In a communique released after the emergency summit, the bloc also said that Malian authorities must nominate a new interim civilian prime minister.

The West African nation is one of the largest producers of gold in Africa but one of the poorest countries of the continent. Gold mining by multinational companies has carried on as usual, although stocks have fallen slightly due to the increased political risk.

The first coup in August forced out the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, amid labor strikes and seething frustration over a crumbling economy, decrepit public services and schools, and a wave of inter-ethnic violence that killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

Crowds were seen rejoicing after Keita was removed by a group of young colonels.

Military support from France, the former colonial power, poured in to quell the insurgency of jihadist groups but armed forces’ abuses skyrocketed.

Boubacar was replaced by an interim president and prime minister who were removed this week for failing in their duties and seeking to sabotage the country’s transition to elected leaders, according to the military coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita. “We had to choose between disorder and cohesion within the defense and security forces,” Goita said in public comments, “and we chose cohesion.”

Meanwhile, a hearing by Mali’s constitutional court confirmed Colonial Goita as the country’s transitional president.

The court’s ruling last Friday declared that Col. Goïta should take on the responsibilities of interim president “to lead the transition process to its conclusion.”

Elections are still scheduled for next February and a new interim prime minister may be appointed in the coming weeks.