Mali coup leaders agree to stand down

2012-04-07 08:23
Bamako - Mali's military junta and the West African bloc Ecowas announced a deal late on Friday that includes the lifting of sanctions and an amnesty for those involved in last month's coup.

The agreement provides a framework for a return to constitutional rule under an interim leader who will oversee democratic elections and handle the crisis in the north, where Islamists and Tuareg rebels have seized control.

It came after Mali's Tuareg rebels on Friday declared independence in the north, a move rejected by the international community and the Islamist insurgents they fought beside, as fears grew of a humanitarian crisis.

The United States, Africa and Europe dismissed the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad's (MNLA's) declaration of independence.

The declaration, long a goal of Tuareg rebels, is a bid to formalise the situation on the ground.

A democratic success since its last coup 21 years ago, Mali is now roughly divided into a Tuareg rebel-controlled north and junta-controlled south.

Sanctions

Ecowas chief Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast said sanctions should be lifted "immediately", Burkina Faso's foreign minister Djibril Bassole told public television station ORTM, referring to Friday's deal.

He also said President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown on March 22 and has not been seen since in public, should be able to live where he wants under army protection.

Bassole, speaking on behalf of Ecowas Mali negotiator Blaise Compaore, the president of Burkina Faso, said: "We wanted... Toure to be allowed to return to the house of his choice and that he could also be protected by the defence and security forces."

He was speaking at Kati near Bamako, the headquarters of the junta, whose head, Captain Amadou Sanogo, read out the accord signed with the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

At the same place coup leader Sanogo had announced on Tuesday that the junta planned legal action against Toure for "high treason and embezzlement".

The text of the deal was signed by Bassole and Sanogo, with Ivorian minister for African integration Adama Bictogo and Nigeria's foreign minister Nurudeen Muhammad as witnesses.

Interim president

Under the agreement, to be carried out "under the aegis of the Ecowas mediator and with the support of the international community," the speaker of the national assembly would become interim president with a transitional prime minister and government.

The single-chamber Malian parliament is headed by Dioncounda Traore, who is currently abroad.

The accord states that the interim president would have "a mission to organise a presidential election in the constitutional timeframe of 40 days."

However, given the "exceptional circumstances... due to the institutional crisis and the armed rebellion in the north" it would be impossible to hold elections within 40 days and so it was "indispensable to organise a political transition" until electoral lists could be revised and "accepted by all."


Read more on:    mali  |  west africa  |  coup

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