The head of Mali’s military-dominated government on Sunday promised west Africa’s regional bloc he would provide it with an election timetable by January 2022.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Mali following military coups in August 2020 and May 2021, sanctioning officials deemed responsible for delaying elections and threatening further measures.

West African leaders on Sunday were due to hold a summit in Nigeria’s capital Abuja to discuss how to respond to Mali’s failure to hold elections by February 2022 before a return to civilian rule.

The head of Mali’s transitional government, Colonel Assimi Goita justified postponing the election and holding a national consultation which he said would be “indispensable” for peace and stability.

“Mali… commits to providing you with a detailed timetable by January 31, 2022 at the latest that could be discussed during an ECOWAS mission,” Goita wrote to the heady of the bloc of West African states head, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, in a letter obtained by AFP.

“The return to constitutional order is and will remain my number one priority,” Goita said.

Goita emerged as Mali’s strongman leader after a coup that toppled former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.

Several civil society organizations are boycotting the consultation launched on Saturday.

The ECOWAS summit will also discuss vaccine supplies, travel bans imposed on African countries and Guinea, which has been under military rule since September after a coup ousted former president Alpha Conde.

Source: Voice of America