African Union reinstates Mali
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The African Union voted to readmit Mali to the bloc on Wednesday more than six months after its membership was revoked following a coup. Members also endorsed a plan for elections to take place in the country early next year.
The African Union has lifted the suspension of Mali, which was barred from the pan-African bloc following a coup in March, an AU official said Wednesday.
"Council decides to lift the suspension of Mali’s participation in the activities of the AU," the AU’s Peace and Security commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra, told reporters.
Mali’s membership was revoked in March after rebels overthrew the elected government. Chaos has reigned in the country since and Islamist extremists and rebel groups have taken over large swathes of the country’s north.
The AU also endorsed a plan urging the "restoration of state authority of the northern part of the country" and called for free elections to take place early next year, according to Lamamra.
The strategic plan calls for "the organisation of free, fair and transparent elections in the first quarter of next year," he said, adding that the plan would be presented to the United Nations Security Council for endorsement.
Last week, officials from the United Nations, the AU, Mali and the regional bloc ECOWAS met in the Malian capital to devise a strategy to defeat rebels in the north.
Lamamra called for the establishment of a national structure to set up talks with rebel groups who are willing to negotiate.
The AU called for Malian authorities "to establish as soon as possible the envisioned national structure that will be in charge of conducting negotiations with Malian armed groups in the north, the groups that are willing to engage in dialogue to find the political solution to the crisis on the basis of the strict respect for the national unity and territorial integrity of Mali", he said.