Talks between West African ECOWAS mediators and Mali’s military commanders ended on August 24 after three days of discussions without any decision on roadmap for a transitional government, the Malian spokesman said.
West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS mandated negotiators with the officers of the Mali National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) during the weekend in a bid to reverse President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s removal from power last week. However facing the refusal of the officers to return to the past, the initial plan did not withstand criticism, and further talks had focused on transitional goverment and the roadmap to elections, rather than the possibility of reinstating the unpopular president, diplomats said.
The protracted uncertainty would represet risks of the aggravation of the political crisis in Mali which, along with the other countries in the Sahel region, is facing a security threat from Islamist militants, expanding their scope of opearations.
Colonel Ismael Wague said mediators would report to the heads of state in West Africa ahead of a summit on Mali this week but, highlighting the popular backing the soldiers relay on, the final decision on the interim administration would be decided by Malians.
“Nothing has been decided. Everyone has given their point of view,” Wague told reporters. “The final decision of the structure of the transition will be made by us Malians here.”
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who led the regional mediation team, said they requested and were granted access to Keita.
“President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita told us that he has resigned. That he was not forced to do so. That he does not want to return to politics and that he wants a quick transition to allow the country to return to civilian rule,” Jonathan told reporters, commenting on the situation of the unpopular ousted former President.
The negotiations were taking place with under threat of regional sanctions hanging over the officers known as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP).
“[Mediators] will discuss this with the heads of state so they can lift or at least ease the sanctions. Sanctions are not good for us or the population,” Wague said.
“This coup must be seen first and foremost in the context of the crisis in Mali. And what is urgent today is not to make mistakes when defining the modalities of the transition which opens after the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK). ECOWAS is already clearly insisting on the priority to be given to the return to constitutional order and the rapid organization of elections, and therefore to a transition that is as short as possible. It is a path that would be unproductive at best, dangerous at worst” writes Mathieu Olivier for Jeune Afrique newspaper.
“Organizing elections to get out of political crises, violent conflicts, periods of transition after a coup d’etat, is a recipe that we like. It generally has the approval and even the preference of the most influential external partners in search of interlocutors who would be legitimate because they are democratically elected. We then wait for miracles to happen, for political and economic governance to change after an election, no matter who the elected president is, no matter how good the electoral process is, and no matter how empty the pre-election political debate is” Olivier warns, insisting that imposing swift elections is not the best of solution of problems of Mali.
The regional branch of West Africa’s BCEAO central bank reopened on August 24, Monday.