The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has demanded the installation of an interim government in Mali to be headed by a civilian or retired military officer for a maximum duration of one year.
Giving President Muhammadu Buhari update on the coup staged by the military last week in the country, which toppled the government of President Ibrahim Keita, ECOWAS Special Envoy to Mali and Buhari’s predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, said his team told the new leadership of the country that the interim government must organise elections within 12 months and restore full constitutional government to Mali.
A statement by Buhari’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Jonathan, at a meeting with the president in Abuja, updated the president on his team’s dialogue with the military coup leaders, whom he said demanded a three-year interregnum before origanising elections.
“They call themselves National Committee for the Salvation of the People. We asked them to allow ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to return to his personal residence, where he would be given tight security, but they said he could travel abroad and not return to answer questions they may have for him.
“We also told them that what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an interim government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months. The interim government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order,” Jonathan stated.
He told Buhari that his team was allowed to meet with the ousted president, whom he said confirmed that he resigned voluntarily and he was no longer interested in returning to power.
Jonathan added that the military leaders urged ECOWAS to lift sanctions imposed on Mali because it was already affecting the country.
“But we told them that the authority to do such was only in the hands of ECOWAS heads of state,” he added.
Buhari, in his remarks, stated that the priority in Mali now should be to secure the country, which he said had largely been occupied by terrorists.
He said: “About two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists and it makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests.”
According to him, the sub-region would take a common position on the issue when the leaders meet tomorrow, hoping that an amicable and a generally acceptable position to all interested parties would be arrived at.