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Africa

Interim Mali president to lead transition

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-05-20

Leaders of Mali's coup said they respected the decision of West African bloc ECOWAS to keep interim President Dioncounda Traoré in power until general elections are held. Mali was thrust into turmoil on March 22 following a military coup.

AFP - Leaders of a coup in Mali said Saturday they respect a decision by the West African bloc ECOWAS that interim president Dioncounda Traore must head the transition until general elections.

"Dioncounda Traore will remain in power to lead the transition" and "talks will continue about (the implementation of) accompanying measures", a military official at the putschists' headquarters at Kati outside Bamako told AFP.

ECOWAS earlier accused the leaders of the March 22 coup of blocking its efforts to steer the country back to constitutional rule.

"An agreement in principle has been reached" with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), coup leader Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo said on state ORTM television after meeting West African ministers on a mediation mission in Bamako.

The talks "will be continued in the coming hours", he added.

Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassole, one of three ECOWAS mediators sent to Mali Saturday, confirmed that the putschists pledge to abide by the agreement.

"Captain Sanogo and the members of the (former junta) agree to the provisions that the ECOWAS heads of state have taken to accompany the transition process," he said.

Bassole said the talks had "gone well.

"We will continue to talk to each other but I can already say that there is a convergence of opinions."

"A certain number of accompanying measures has to be elaborated and we will stay in Bamako the time it needs" to do that, he added.

Bassole was accompanied by colleagues from Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

ECOWAS foreign ministers met in Abidjan Saturday, a day after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was "critical" that they "send a clear and principled message against unconstitutional seizures of power".

The regional bloc successfully mediated a transition agreement and convinced the junta to hand power to Traore on April 12.

But the mid-level army officers who overthrew then president Amadou Toumani Toure's government are refusing to let Traore stay in office beyond Tuesday – the 40 days set down in the constitution as the maximum length of an interim government.

The ECOWAS deal envisioned a 12-month transition that would lead to new elections.

The regional bloc had sharp words for the coup leaders Friday after the latest round of talks failed to resolve the impasse.

"The junta itself created (this) blockage," Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, whose country holds the rotating ECOWAS presidency, told a regional ministerial meeting.

On Friday, Mali's parliament unanimously passed a bill granting amnesty to the coup leaders.

The bill, which must be signed by the president before becoming law, was part of the ECOWAS-mediated transition deal.

While the junta justified the coup saying the government was not doing enough to fight a rebellion by ethnic Tuareg rebels in the north, the power vacuum in Bamako has enabled Islamist and Tuareg fighters to seize most of the vast desert north, effectively splitting the country in two.

 

Date created : 2012-05-20

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