Mali Imam supports ECOWAS demands

On September 9 the influential Mali cleric Imam Mahmoud Dicko urged the military commanders led by Colonel Assimi Goita to comply with demands from West African leaders (ECOWAS) to name a civilian interim transition President and Prime minister by September 15 to ease sanctions imposed after last month’s coup.

“If the international community, including ECOWAS, now thinks that the presidency of this transition should be given to civilians, let’s give it to civilians,” Dicko said, ruling himself out of the running.

“Mali is full of executives, men of integrity, let’s find this rare bird.”

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned and dissolved Parliament last month after imperative demands of the officers. The military coup d’état was welcomed by Malians, accusing the the government of endemic corruption, mounting to 40% of state funds.

Opposition groups also voiced enthusiastic support for the coup, but the sympathy has faded away last week when the opposition coalition, of which Dicko is a senior figure, sharply criticised the officers led by the Colonel Assimi Goita after they discovered that he was not invited to preliminary consultations about the transition.

International powers say that they fear the political uncertainty in Bamako could undermine the fight across West Africa’s Sahel region against Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

On September 5 the officers led by Assimi Goita began talks with Mali’s political parties and civil society groups over a transition to civilian rule. The move was welcomed by the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), but they did not lift the sanctions.

Dicko, a Salafist preacher who earlier this year electrified protesters during anti-government demonstrations, told the state broadcaster late on September 9 that Mali needed assistance and that it had nothing to gain by going behind the back of the international community.

New consultations are scheduled for Thursday, September 10 in the country. Discussions will focus on the distribution of posts between civilians and military, the duration of the transition and many other topics covering the transition period. Civil society, armed groups, political parties, unions and others are invited to the consultation. Probably the last round because Colonel Goita must make its decision before September 15, the date of the ECOWAS ultimatum.

This consultation will take place in Bamako, and is open to a broad spectrum of players. The documents provided by the committee of experts will help develop the debates. The military could withdraw from power, if there is a good guarantee, according to sources. Absent during the first consultations, the head of the officers in coma to Colonel Goita could take part in the work from September 10, claiming openness with regard to the transition.

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