News24

West Africa envoys to revive Mali talks

2012-05-15 16:24

Bamako - Two envoys from West African regional bloc Ecowas were to return to Mali on Tuesday, days after leaving the country following the breakdown of talks with coup leaders.

Djibril Bassole, Burkina Faso's foreign minister, and Adama Bictogo, Ivory Coast's minister for African integration, were scheduled to fly to Bamako on Tuesday in order to revive talks with junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo.

At the weekend, Bassole and Bictogo left Mali, saying that discussions about the country's next steps had failed.

The talks were held in the run-up to the end of interim leader Dioncounda Traore's 40 days in power. According to Mali's constitution, Traore's leadership is to expire next week.

The visit comes after the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) on Monday threatened to slap fresh sanctions on Mali.

In a statement, the grouping said the coup leaders' actions were "worrying" and "appear clearly designed to disrupt the political transition and further destabilise the situation in Mali".

In return, the junta said it would organise a national convention among political stakeholders and civil society to choose a new interim leader.

Sanogo said the new leader should have the backing of the Malian population and that political clout must be wielded in order to deal with the insurgency in the north-east.

But according to local media reports on Tuesday, separatist rebels in the north-eastern town of Gao were "beginning to lose their hold on the town".

Reports from Bamako-based news websites said that groups of youth "chased away" some rebels present in the town, including members of the Islamist faction Ansar Dine.