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Mali: Junta Proposes 3-Year Military Rule, Agrees to Free President – Reports

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Mali’s junta and mediators from West Africa’s regional bloc have reached agreement on some points. Reports said the junta pledged to free deposed President Keita and proposed a three-year transition led by the military.

Mali’s military junta has put forward a plan for a soldier-led transitional body to rule for three years and agreed to release the ousted president, French Radio RFI and the AFP news agency reported.

The proposal was reportedly presented during negotiations between the rebel soldiers and West Africa’s regional bloc late Sunday.

Malian soldiers seized power in a coup last Tuesday following months of protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

‘Discussing the way forward’

Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) headed by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan are holding closed-door talks with the new junta, led by Colonel Assimi Goita (pictured above), in a bid to return the country to civilian rule.

“We have reached a number of agreements but we have not reached agreement on all the issues,” Jonathan told reporters.

Both the regional delegation and the military officers “want the country to move on” after the coup, he said. “We are just discussing the way forward.”

The talks lasted around nine hours on Sunday and were set to continue on Monday.

“We reached compromise on certain aspects and the negotiations will continue tomorrow,” spokesperson for the junta, Colonel Ismael Wague, said.

Neither delegation specified which points they had agreed on or what the outstanding issues were. However, sources quoted by media suggested the fate of detained President Keita and the details of a transition to civilian rule were a key focus of discussions.

Junta wants three-year transition

AFP quoted a source in the ECOWAS delegation as saying the junta wanted a “three-year transition” to review the foundations of the Malian state.

“This transition will be directed by a body led by a soldier, who will also be head of state,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

A junta official confirmed the proposal to AFP, saying the transition would have “a military president and a government mostly composed of soldiers.”

French Radio RFI reported late Sunday that the junta was ready to allow Keita to return to his home in Bamako or leave the country.

“And if he wants to travel abroad for treatment, that is not a problem,” AFP quoted the ECOWAS source as saying. Prime Minister Boubou Cisse would be moved to a secure residence in the capital, the source added.

Tuesday’s coup, the country’s second in eight years, has received condemnation from the international community but it is being celebrated by many in Mali — a nation grappling with an Islamist insurgency and months of political turmoil following a contested legislative election in March.

(AP, Reuters)

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