Mali crisis: Military, ECOWAS talks end in deadlock

Talks between West African nations and Mali’s new junta ended on Monday without a deal on how the country should return to civilian rule following last week’s coup, negotiators said.

It would be recalled that soldiers had on August 18, ousted Mali’s government in a coup.

The act was strongly condemned by ECOWAS, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).

ECOWAS – the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States — sent a high-level delegation to Bamako on Saturday, led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, to press its demands for the “immediate return to constitutional order.”

AFP reports that separately, the two sides also said that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita – whose return to the office had been initially demanded by the regional bloc ECOWAS – no longer wished to resume duties.

The junta’s spokesman, Colonel Ismael Wague, maintained that the transition would be defined by them.

“There were discussions on both sides, given that at this stage nothing has been set down, nothing has been decided, and that as far as we are concerned, the final architecture of the transition will be discussed and defined by us.”

On his part, Jonathan said: “We have agreed on a number of issues, but there are some issues that we have not agreed.

“So on those issues we told the military officers the thinking of ECOWAS and we asked them to go and review.”

In another development, a former Director-General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Professor Bola Akinterinwa, had advised ECOWAS to handle the crisis with caution.

“Mali is the regional headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the rest.

“If ECOWAS does not manage the situation in Mali carefully, and insists on sactioning Mali under military setting, that will give an opportunity to the terrorists to spread from there to other West African countries,” he said on TVC news.

The August 18 coup triggered shockwaves among Mali’s neighbours, fearing that one of the region’s most volatile countries would spiral into chaos.

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