Mali: ECOWAS Leaders Fail To Reach Agreement With Mali’s Ruling Military Junta

Members of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have failed to convince Mali’s military coup leaders to hand over power to a civilian government immediately during talks on Tuesday, the chairman of the regional bloc said on Tuesday, reported Reuters.

The West African mediators met the members of the military junta that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last month, in the bloc’s latest attempt to quicken the transition from military leadership.

ECOWAS had imposed economic sanctions on Mali after the coup, and called for the appointment of a new president by Tuesday. The sanctions include border closures and the suspension of financial flows, though these were eased so they did not comply on ordinary civilians.

 “We have not reached any agreement with the military junta,” said Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, the acting ECOWAS chair, after the talks.

 He said that a mediating team would return to Mali next week to try to resolve outstanding issues.

“We need a civilian leadership of the transition and we have also made it clear that the minute that leadership input is in place…the sanctions…would be lifted,” he said.

While the ECOWAS leaders wants the military junta to hand over power to a transitional government as soon as possible, the junta came out with a charter on Saturday that said the selected interim president can either be a civilian or a soldier. The ruling military has not yet indicated when the new government would be named.

Regional leaders fear the coup could undermine a fight in Mali and neighboring countries in the Sahel region against Islamist militants with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

The West African bloc leaders said that they are now willing to allow a transitional government to stand for 18 months, longer than the one year period it had previously asked for.

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