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Mali Coup: Military Junta Gives New Conditions for Negotiations

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President Muhammadu Buhari

The military junta in Mali is asking for the sanctions placed on that country lifted, saying they were already affecting the country.

Special Envoy of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) to Mali and former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, disclosed this yesterday when he briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the ECOWAS peace efforts in the West African country.

He, however, said his delegation told the military junta that the authority to lift the sanctions only lies in the hands of ECOWAS heads of state.

This is just as President Buhari said the priority in the Republic of Mali now should be securing that country, which is largely occupied by terrorists.

According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, the meeting between Buhari and Jonathan came ahead of an extraordinary virtual summit by ECOWAS heads of state and leaders scheduled for Friday.

President Buhari stressed that “about two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists, and it makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests.”

He said the sub-region would take a common position on the issue when the leaders meet on Friday, hoping that an amicable and generally
acceptable position to all interested parties would be arrived at.

Earlier, Jonathan brought the president up to speed on dialogue with the
military coup leaders, who are seeking to stay in power for three years, before holding elections.

The Special Envoy said, “They call themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People. We asked them to allow ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to return to his personal residence, where he would be given tight security, but they said he could travel abroad, and not return to answer questions they may have for him.

“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 a maximum of 12 calendar months. The interim government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order.”

According to the statement, Jonathan disclosed that his team was allowed to meet with the ousted president, who confirmed that he resigned voluntarily and that he was no longer interested in returning to his former position.

He added that the military leaders want ECOWAS to lift sanctions put in place, as it was already affecting the country, “but we told them that the authority to do such was only in the hands of ECOWAS heads of
state.”

ECOWAS had suspended Mali from the regional body following the military coup that culminated in the ouster of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

President Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were arrested by rebel soldiers after weeks of unrest in that country.

Keita later announced his resignation and dissolved parliament, saying his decision to quit became necessary to avoid bloodshed.

Miffed by the development, ECOWAS in a statement asked all its members to close land and air borders to Mali.

It said sanctions will be meted out against “all the putschists as well as their partners and collaborators”.

However, Assimi Goita, a Colonel in the Malian Army, declared himself head of the “National Committee for the salvation of the People”, a group created by rebels in that country.

Goita who is one of the five soldiers who announced the formation of the salvation committee announced his new position after a meeting with top civil servants.

Amid condemnation from the international community, the rebel soldiers, who overthrew Keita insisted to rule for three years before restoring stability and overseeing a transition to elections in that country.

Colonel-Major Ismael Wague, a spokesman for the coup plotters calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, said they acted to prevent Mali from falling further into chaos.

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