Published: 16:31, August 24, 2020 | Updated: 19:15, June 5, 2023
West Africa leaders soften stance on return of Mali leader
By Bloomberg

President of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People) Assimi Goita, third left, attends a meeting between Malian military leaders and an ECOWAS delegation headed by former Nigerian president on August 22, 2020, in an aim to restore order after the military coup in Bamako.  (PHOTO / AFP)

West African leaders may no longer push for Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to be restored to office after a first phase of talks with the military junta that has taken control of the country, an official said.

The softened stance comes after envoys from the Economic Community of West African States met junta leaders at the weekend to discuss a transition to a civilian administration. The regional bloc had initially called for Keita to be reinstated.

We have reached a lot of agreements, but we have not yet agreed on all the issues

Goodluck Jonathan, President, Nigeria

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The Ecowas delegation led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has made some progress in the negotiations. More talks are planned on Monday, Ismael Wague, the spokesman for the junta, told closely held Malian Horon TV.

“We have reached a lot of agreements, but we have not yet agreed on all the issues,” Jonathan told the broadcaster.

Keita, 75, dissolved his government and resigned Tuesday under pressure from soldiers who detained him hours after they staged a mutiny at an army barracks on the outskirts of the capital, Bamako. Previous mediation efforts by Ecowas failed to resolve the impasse between Keita’s government and a popular protest movement that had demanded he step down before he was eventually seized.

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The bloc placed its forces on standby Tuesday, as it sealed off Mali’s borders and suspended all trade. Keita remains in captivity with top members of his cabinet.

Among the proposals submitted by the junta to the Ecowas delegation was that a military-led transitional authority rule Mali for three years, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a person it didn’t identify. It also agreed to release Keita, the agency said.