By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The leaders of the junta responsible for last week’s overthrow of Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita have confirmed they want a military-led transitional body to rule the country for three years. They have also agreed to release the ousted president.
Under this proposal, Mali will have a military head of state for the three-year transition period, while the government would be predominantly composed of soldiers.
On Sunday, a delegation of mediators from the West African regional bloc (ECOWAS), led by Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Ebere Jonathan, met with the junta in a bid to restore constitutional order in the country.
Speaking after the Sunday closed-door meeting, former president Jonathan explained that a number of points had been agreed on, but not all of them. Negotiations are however due to resume on Monday.
Popular discontent, mixed reactions
Last week’s coup, Mali’s second in eight years, came after months of massive protests calling for the resignation of Keita over claims of incompetence, corruption and mismanagement of the country’s economy.
The protests were sparked by a contested parliamentary election in March and led by the Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques (M5-RFP). The M5-RFP is the opposition party made up of a coalition of political, religious and civil society representatives. Media reports indicate that at least 14 people were killed since protests began in June.
Religious leaders too, made several calls for peace in the wake of the violent protests. Cardinal Zerbo, the Archbishop of Bamako urged the protesters to embrace dialogue in a joint appeal with other religious leaders in July.
World and regional leaders including the AU, EU and UN have condemned the coup and called for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and the rule of law in Mali.
The West-African bloc, ECOWAS has placed sanctions on Mali, suspending the nation from its decision-making institutions, and halting financial flow into the country.