Tuesday , September 29 2020

Mali junta holds talks on path back to democracy


Mali’s ruling junta will try to convince regional leaders to accept its road map for a return to civilian rule as an ultimatum for it to name an interim president expires.
The junta last week unveiled a political charter that could see a military officer heading a transitional government for 18 months — a proposition opposed by members of the M5-RFP, the main opposition coalition.
Top military leaders were expected to seek to win support for their plan and a reversal of economic sanctions when they head to Accra, Ghana’s capital, on Tuesday for a meeting with leaders of the Economic Community of West African States.
Investors in sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-biggest gold producer are looking to the talks for signs of the political situation stabilising.
“We are encouraged by what we are seeing about the meetings that are happening,” said B2Gold Corp Chief Executive Officer Clive Johnson. “We will hear more about the transitional government that will likely be in place in the not too distant future.”
Ecowas has taken a hard line since the August 18 coup that deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, shutting Mali’s borders and halting financial flows. The 15-nation regional bloc insists the transition should happen within a year.
M5-RFP members say the junta has ignored some of their key proposals, including the appointment of a civilian interim president. Opposition leader Sy Kadiatou Sow called the junta’s plan an attempt to “confiscate power.”
The opposition’s stance points to a deepening rift between the junta and M5-RFP, the two main power brokers in Mali’s post-coup political environment, and could make it difficult to choose a transitional leader before Ecowas’s deadline expires on Tuesday, said Kalilou Sidibe, a political science and law professor at the University of Bamako. The opposition could also call for protests against the junta, he said by phone.
M5-RFP, a French acronym for the June 5 Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces, led mass protests in Bamako, the capital, calling for Keita to resign. Keita, 75, eventually quit and dissolved his government after mutinous soldiers detained him at an army barracks on Bamako’s outskirts.
The junta’s main defense against regional and internal pressure for a swift return to civilian rule is that it
commands widespread support among Malians and the military.
Ecowas’s call for a speedy transition has backing from the US and France — the latter has 5,100 troops across the Sahel region that are fighting insurgents. Most of its forces are hunting down IS-linked groups in Mali.

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