Mali crisis: EU fully supports ECOWAS

‘The EU is following closely the national consultations in Bamako, and in the region. These consulations should be inclusive to reflect the aspirations of the Malian people, and they should come to the conclusion as soon as possible, leading to a rapid transition of power led by the civilians. The EU fully supports the ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] heads of states demands of the transition led by a civilian President and a civilian Prime Minister to ensure the return to the Consitutional order within the period of one year», the European External Action Service spokesperson said, while reacting upon the political crisis in Mali, and the ultimatum of the ECOWAS, demanding from the military commanders to appoint a civilian head of state on September 15 the latest.

Mali’s military commanders have begun talks with opposition groups on its promised transition to civilian rule after mounting pressure in recent weeks to transfer power.

The officers, who overthrew unpopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in a coup d’état in August, pledged to step down after an undefined transition period, but the this vague perspective caused concerns of the neighbours and former colonial ruler France, demanding a swift transfer of power to civilian rule, fearing Mali could serve as a negative model for the other states in the region.

The 15-nation regional bloc ECOWAS had imposed sanctions and closed borders to Mali as part of efforts to press the military, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, 37, who is the head of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) into handing over power swiftly, and without further delay.

Influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, a key figure in the mass opposition protests that led to President Keita’s downfall, has insisted that the military government does not have “carte blanche”.

ECOWAS is calling for a swift return to civilian rule and a vote within a year, a timeline the officers united in the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), has yet not committed to.

ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, said both the President and the Prime minister shoud be appointed by September 15 the latest.

Some Malian political leaders have insisted, along with the ECOWAS, that the interim president is a civilian, but the according to different sources the recommendation of experts said these persons can be a military or a civilian.

The candidate must be not younger than 35, but not older than 75 and would not be eligible to stand for election at the end of the transition period, the quoted expert document said.

Ghana will host a mini-summit of ECOWAS leaders next Tuesday, September 15, a spokesperson for Ghana’s Foreign ministry said. At present there is no information about the steps and measures to be undertaken if the Malian officers refuse to comply with the ECOWAS demands.

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