ECOWAS Insists Mali Junta Must Hand Over To Civilian Immediately

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has rejected the 18-months transitional period proposed by the military junta in Mali, insisting on immediate switch to civillian rule.

The chairman said this in Accra as a deadline expired for the ruling junta to appoint interim leaders.

The military had on August 18 ousted President Ibrahim Keita from power, with the 15-member regional bloc responding with immediate sanctions.

The military junta, known as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) and led by Colonel Assimi Goita, had initially proposed a two-year transitional plan. But the ECOWAS had insisted on a transitional government, lasting one year and headed by a civilian.

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The junta, however, pushed through a charter on Saturday that says the interim president can be a soldier or a civilian and has not yet indicated when the new government would be named.

Regional presidents met junta leaders on Tuesday in Ghana in an attempt to quicken the transition.

“Today is supposed to be the day that the junta is to put in place a government, which should respond to the criteria we set out in August.

“That has not been met,” said Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, the acting ECOWAS chair, before the start of talks.

Regional leaders fear the coup could set a dangerous precedent in West Africa and undermine a fight in Mali and neighbouring countries in the Sahel region against militants with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

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“That country can no longer afford any delay in putting a responsible government in place,” he said.

West African leaders have not said what the consequences would be for failing to meet the deadline.

The existing sanctions include border closures and the suspension of financial flows.

The charter approved at multi-party talks in Mali also calls for an 18-month transition, while ECOWAS had said that fresh elections should be held within a year.

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