W. African envoys in Mali for civilian-transition talks

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The president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
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  • Three mediators including former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan have arrived in Bamako for a meeting with political and civil society figures.
  • In August, army officers ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
  • The nation is under a caretaker government, which is meant to rule for 18 months before staging democratic elections.


West African envoys landed in Mali for talks on the country's transition to civilian rule Monday, amid concerns over the slow pace of reforms and the army's role in government.

The mediator for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, arrived in the Sahel state's capital Bamako, an airport official confirmed, for two days of meetings with political and civil-society figures.

He was accompanied by ECOWAS President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and the Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, according to the same official.

Their visit comes amid increasing questions over the post-coup government's ability to reform the constitution and stage elections within roughly a year, all while tackling the country's brutal jihadist insurgency.

Army officers ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on 18 August, after weeks of protests fuelled by frustrations over his failure to tackle the eight-year conflict, as well as perceived corruption.

In response, ECOWAS quickly levied a trade and financial embargo on Mali, a poor nation of some 19 million people.

The 15-nation bloc only lifted the sanctions after the military junta on 5 October handed power to a caretaker civilian government, which is meant to rule for 18 months before staging democratic elections.

The junta had initially pushed for the interim government to last for three years.

Figures with army links have retained strong influence over Mali's government, however, raising questions about the military's role.

Coup leader Assimi Goita was appointed interim vice president, for example. And the interim president, Bah Ndaw - a civilian - was an army officer before retiring from the military.

Ndaw nonetheless pledged on 31 December to return Mali to civilian rule on schedule.

Goodluck Jonathan is expected to meet both Ndaw and Goita during his visit, according to a programme published by ECOWAS.


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