Malian junta wants three-year military rule, accepts president’s release

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Bamako (AFP)

The junta that took power in Mali wants an army-led transitional body to rule for three years and agreed to release the ousted president, a source said on Sunday on a delegation visiting West Africa. and the rebel soldiers.

Last week’s coup – Mali’s second in eight years – followed months of protests calling for the resignation of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as public discontent with the government grew over the economic collapse and a brutal Islamist insurgency.

“The junta said it wanted a three-year transition to review the foundations of the Malian state. This transition will be led by a body headed by a military man, who will also be the head of state, ”said a source within the ECOWAS delegation. told AFP after talks with the junta.

“The government will also be predominantly made up of soldiers,” the proposal said, the source said on condition of anonymity.

A junta official confirmed to AFP that “the three-year transition would have a military president and a government mostly made up of soldiers.”

The source and the official added that the soldiers agreed to release Keita, who has been detained with other political leaders since the coup on Tuesday, and that he could return home to the capital Bamako.

“And if he wants to go abroad for (medical) treatment, that’s not a problem,” said the ECOWAS source, which represents the Economic Community of African States. Where is.

Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, who was detained with Keita at a military base outside the capital where the coup began, is reportedly transferred to a secure residence in the city.

While the coup was condemned by the international community, thousands of opposition supporters celebrated the ousting of the president in the streets of Bamako.

– Interviews in Bamako –

The junta said it “had completed the work” of the demonstrators and pledged to hold elections “within a reasonable time”.

However, Mali’s neighbors have called for Keita’s reinstatement, saying the purpose of the visit of the ECOWAS regional bloc delegation was to help “ensure the immediate return to constitutional order”.

Tuesday’s coup has heightened concern over regional stability as Mali’s jihadist insurgency now threatens neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.

ECOWAS talks are expected to resume Monday in Bamako after two days of negotiations with the junta.

“We have reached a number of agreements but we have not reached agreement on all the issues,” former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, head of the delegation, said at the end of Sunday’s talks.

The regional delegation and military officers “want the country to move on” after the coup, he said. “We’re just discussing the way forward. ”

Jonathan met Keita on Saturday and said he looked “very good”.

Keita won an election in a landslide in 2013, posing as a unifying figure in a fractured country, and was re-elected in 2018 for another five-year term.

But he failed to make progress against the jihadist revolt that left swathes of the country in the hands of armed Islamists and unleashed ethnic violence in the unstable center of the country.

The head of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, expressed hope this weekend that it would be possible to “finalize everything” on Monday, stressing the “strong will of the army to move forward. ‘before”.

“We need results, because on August 26, ECOWAS heads of state meet to say whether they will strengthen the sanctions against the junta, or if the grip on them will be relaxed,” said a member. of the delegation.

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