Mali given 10 more days to form unity govt

2012-08-01 11:30


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Bamako - West African mediators have given Mali at least 10 more days to form a unity government just as a deadline was due to expire on Tuesday, presidential and diplomatic sources told AFP.

"Mali has obtained a postponement of the deadline of 31 July for the formation of the new government," an advisor to interim President Dioncounda Traore said. An African diplomat said the extension was for at least 10 days.

"With the new situation marked by the return of Traore who has taken things in hand again, there will be no sanctions against Mali after the date of 31 July," added the diplomat, who is posted in Bamako.

Traore returned to Bamako on Friday after two months in Paris where he sought medical treatment after being savagely beaten by protesters opposed to his appointment as interim president.

His absence was marked by a deepening of the crisis and loss of faith in his Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, with key parties accusing him of "incompetence and amateurishness".

On Sunday Traore addressed the nation, announcing a raft of measures, including new transition bodies, to attempt to tackle the crisis, putting himself in charge of negotiations to form a unity government.

Traore's advisor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 70-year-old was "currently busy leading consultations for the formation of the new team."

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) regional bloc set the interim authorities the deadline of 31 July to form a wider government which could better tackle the country's many crises.

The interim government was set up in April, taking over from the junta which ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure's regime on 22 March in anger over his handling of a Tuareg rebellion which had overwhelmed the army.

However the chaos in the wake of the coup only allowed the Tuareg and al-Qaeda-linked armed Islamist groups to seize the vast north, an area larger than France. The extremists are now firmly in control of the area.

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