The neighboring countries of Mali, gathered in an Extraordinary Summit, demanded Thursday the “recovery” of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, overthrown by a coup and decided to send a delegation to Bamako for an “immediate return to the country. ‘constitutional order’.
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In Bamako, the spokesperson for the junta, Ismaël Wagué, indicated that a president of the transition was going to be put in place, “a soldier or a civilian”.
“We are in contact with civil society, the opposition parties, the majority, everyone, to try to put in place the transition” which will be “as short as possible”, he said on France 24 .
The junta also announced Thursday evening in a statement “the reopening of the air and land borders from this Friday August 21 at 00:00”.
But members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had previously declared the closure of its members’s borders with Mali.
The leaders of the ECOWAS met for a virtual summit three days after the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, known as “IBK”, still in the hands of the coup military.
“We demand the reestablishment of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as President of the Republic” of Mali, declared the Head of State of Niger – bordering Mali – Mahamadou Issoufou, at the end of this summit which also decided ” to immediately dispatch a high-level delegation to ensure the immediate return of constitutional order ”.
“Mali is in a critical situation, with serious risks that a collapse of the state and institutions could lead to setbacks in the fight against terrorism and organized crime”, continued Mr. Issoufou, president in office. ECOWAS, reminding the putschists “their responsibility” for “the security of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and the arrested officials”.
At the opening of the Summit, Mr. Issoufou recalled that in 2012, a previous military coup in Bamako had enabled armed Islamist groups “to occupy two-thirds of Malian territory for several weeks”.
In Mali, the ECOWAS will conduct discussions and “make the leaders of the military junta understand that the times of seizing power by force are over in our sub-region”, added President Issoufou, asking “for the implementation immediate set of sanctions against all military coup plotters and their partners and collaborators ”.
In the Malian capital, soldiers were posted Thursday in front of the administrative city, which houses most of the ministries, noted an AFP correspondent. But the inhabitants, who generally welcomed the change of regime, went about their business normally, especially in the markets.
Senior personalities arrested
Elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2018 for five years, President Keïta had been facing for months an unprecedented challenge since the coup of 2012. He was forced to announce his resignation and the dissolution of the National Assembly. and the government on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, after being arrested by the putschists.
In addition to the President and his Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, the military also arrested several senior officials, including the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Security, Generals Ibrahima Dahirou Dembélé and M’Bemba Moussa Keïta, President of the Assembly national Moussa Timbiné and the army chief of staff, General Abdoulaye Coulibaly.
All were still detained Thursday evening.
Mali is now headed by a National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), headed by a colonel, Assimi Goïta, and promised elections within a “reasonable time”.
The new strongman of Mali, an officer in his forties from the best military schools in the country, until now led the special forces in the center of the country, a region plagued since 2015 by jihadist attacks that have caused heavy civilian and military casualties.
These attacks, mingled with intercommunal violence, spilled over into neighboring countries Niger and Burkina Faso.
“Celebrate the victory of the people”
In recent weeks, the ECOWAS had failed to resolve the crisis opposing, since the disputed legislative elections of March-April, IBK to the “June 5 Movement” (M5), a motley coalition of political opponents, religious and members of Civil society.
The West African organization had called for a government of national unity but made the forced departure of President Keïta a “red line”.
The M5 welcomed the putsch and said it was ready to work out a political transition with the junta. He plans to organize large gatherings on Friday to “celebrate the victory of the Malian people”.
Like the UN, France or the United States, the NGO Amnesty International on Thursday called on the perpetrators of the coup to immediately release the personalities arrested and called for an investigation into the shooting deaths of four people during the events of Tuesday, while the junta says there were no casualties.
The international community unanimously condemned the coup, although the mutineers assured that the UN, French and West African forces present in Mali remained their “partners” and would respect the peace agreement signed in 2015. between Bamako and the armed groups in the north of the country.