News24

Sanogo doesn't want foreign forces

2012-04-10 14:11

Bamako - The head of Mali's military junta made clear on Monday that he would have a powerful say over how the country is run in the weeks ahead, and does not want foreign forces helping reclaim the country's north from rebels who declared independence.

In televised comments, Captain Amadou Sanogo said he is asking Mali's partners for equipment and logistical help. The West African regional bloc known as Ecowas has been preparing a force of up to 3 000 soldiers to be deployed in Mali to help win back the regions under rebel control.

The comments come just days after Sanogo signed an agreement with Ecowas that is supposed to return Mali to constitutional rule, and a new civilian president is due to be sworn in this week.

Sanogo, though, said on Monday that he would decide with Ecowas how the country would be run after the 40 days usually set out in the country's constitution for a transition of power.

"It was very clear in the framework agreement that after 40 days we would sit down with Ecowas to decide on another team to lead the transition," Sanogo said.

Under Mali's constitution, it is the president of the national assembly who takes over for a maximum period of 40 days until elections can be organised after the presidency becomes vacant.

However, the agreement signed on Friday said that the 40-day limit would be impossible to stick to given the country's political crisis. Tuareg rebels now control the northern half of Mali, and one faction of the rebels declared the zone independent last week.

Mali's ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure officially resigned on Sunday after spending more than more than two weeks in hiding after the presidential palace was attacked by soldiers on on 21 March. He had been due to stand down soon anyway because he was reaching the end of his two-term maximum.

The president of Mali's national assembly, Dioncounda Traore, is due to be sworn in as president on Wednesday, according to his chief of staff, Issa Togo.

"Is it ideal to have to broker a deal where the president steps down and you have to have a interim president until elections? Of course it's not ideal. But it does mark a very important restoration of civilian rule, without which we didn't think Mali was going to be able to move forward," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Monday.