Efforts to restore civilian rule and stability in Mali appear to have hit a snag, as the military junta denounced decisions by the regional bloc ECOWAS on how the country’s transition should go forward. The coup leader insists the junta will not be sidelined.
Coup leader Amadou Sanogo said late Saturday the junta was not consulted on decisions made at a recent ECOWAS meeting in Abidjan, and that Mali is sticking to the accord soldiers signed with ECOWAS in early April.
That agreement set out a 40-day term for an interim civilian government. Sanogo has held that the junta would then step in and work with ECOWAS on the rest of the transition. But at their April 26th meeting ECOWAS leaders declared the transition would last 12 months, during which elections would be organized.
Coup leader Sanogo told reporters what stands is the agreement the junta signed with ECOWAS. As far as we are concerned, he says, nothing has changed and nothing will change.
Sanogo later made the declaration on state television.
Signed two weeks after the March 22nd coup d’état amid pressure of harsh ECOWAS sanctions, the earlier accord - which was called a “framework” - was vague on the junta’s role in the transition. ECOWAS said that one of the main aims of the meeting last week would be to clarify this.
A soldier walks past Malians protesting the junta's arrest of several prominent figures, in front of the hotel where interim president Dioncounda Traore is staying. The sign reads in part, 'Military to the front lines, power to civilians'. Bamako, April 1
The junta’s role, West African leaders declared at the meeting, is to return to the barracks and take on their mission of defending the country. The regional bloc also said ECOWAS would send troops to Mali to support the transition and help Mali restore its territorial integrity, following the rebel takeover of the north.
The junta for weeks has rejected the proposition of ECOWAS troops entering Mali, saying the country’s military needs only financial and logistical support.
Sanogo’s denunciation on Saturday followed a meeting with ECOWAS envoys at junta headquarters in Kati, just outside Mali's capital Bamako. A reporter who was on the scene said armed soldiers shouted "down with ECOWAS" as the officials got into their cars after the meeting.
ECOWAS Commissioner Kadré Desiré Ouédraogo said at the Abidjan meeting that Mali junta members would be sanctioned for any actions aimed at clinging to power.