ECOWAS leaders meet Friday after Mali junta insists staying in power for 3-year
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are expected to meet on Friday over the political impasse in Mali as the military junta that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita insisted on staying in power for three years to supervise a fresh election.
The meeting of the 15-nation member bloc is expected to discuss further steps against the military regime after discussion with the special envoy of ECOWAS deadlock on negotiation to release Keita limit the regime to nothing more than one year in office.
The military junta in Mali had told a delegation led by Nigerian ex-President Goodluck Jonathan that they want to stay in power for a three-year transition period, contrary to the request of the West African leaders seeking shortening of tenure for the regime.
Negotiators from the ECOWAS were sent to Mali at the weekend to discuss a return to civilian rule with the military officers who ousted President Keita in the Aug. 18 coup.
However, three days of meetings ended without a decision on the structure of a transitional government.
The junta leaders said after taking power that they acted because the country was sinking into chaos and insecurity which they said was largely the fault of poor government. They also promised to oversee a transition to elections within a “reasonable” amount of time.
Presidency said the mutineers were now seeking to oversee a three-year transition before elections. Earlier, ECOWAS envoy and Nigerian ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had given an update on talks to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We also told them that what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an Interim Government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months,” the presidency quoted Jonathan as saying in a statement.
The coup has raised the prospect of further political turmoil in Mali which, like other countries in the region, has faced an expanding threat from Islamist militants and civil unrest.
Coup leaders have held Keita since his overthrow, declining an ECOWAS request for him to be moved to his own residence.
“They said he could travel abroad, and not return to answer questions they may have for him,” Jonathan was quoted as saying.
The bloc has taken a hardline on the coup, shutting borders and halting some financial flows.
“The military leaders want ECOWAS to lift sanctions put in place, as it was already affecting the country,” it said.