Monday, August 24, 2020

Mali soldiers want three-year stay in power, agree to release president

The junta that seized power in Mali wants a military-led transitional body to rule for three years and has agreed to release the ousted president, a source in a visiting West African delegation and the rebel soldiers said Sunday.

Last week’s coup — Mali’s second in eight years — followed months of protests calling for Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign as public discontent with the government grew over the collapsing economy and a brutal Islamist insurgency.

“The junta has affirmed that it wants a three-year transition to review the foundations of the Malian state. This transition will be directed by a body led by a soldier, who will also be head of state,” a source in the ECOWAS delegation told AFP after talks with the junta.

“The government will also be predominantly composed of soldiers” under the proposal, the source said on condition of anonymity.

A junta official confirmed to AFP that “the three-year transition would have a military president and a government mostly composed of soldiers”.

The source and the official added that the soldiers have agreed to free Keita, detained along with other political leaders since the coup on Tuesday, and he would be able to return to his home in the capital Bamako.

“And if he wants to travel abroad for (medical) treatment, that is not a problem,” said the source from ECOWAS, which stands for the Economic Community of West African States.

Prime minister Boubou Cisse, who has been held with Keita at a military base outside the capital where the coup began, would be moved to a secure residence in the city.

While the coup was met with international condemnation, thousands of opposition supporters celebrated the president’s ouster in the streets of Bamako.

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