Mali coup leaders to stand down as part of Ecowas deal

 
Captain Amadou Sanogo, 3 April 2012 Captain Amadou Sanogo seized power in a coup last month

Coup leaders in Mali have agreed to stand down and allow a transition to civilian rule, as part of a deal struck with regional bloc Ecowas.

In return, the bloc will lift trade and economic sanctions and grant amnesty to the ruling junta, mediators said.

The move came after Tuareg rebels in the north declared independence of an area they call Azawad.

The rebels seized the area after a coup two weeks ago plunged the West African nation into political crisis.

Independence call

Under the terms of transition plan, military rulers will cede power to the parliamentary speaker, Diouncounda Traore, who as interim president will oversee a timetable for elections.

Once sworn in, Mr Traore would have 40 days to organise elections, the five-page agreement says.

Analysis

After four days of a total economic embargo, the announcement will certainly come as a relief for the Malian population.

The agreement says that Ecowas will immediately prepare for the lifting of the tough sanctions it imposed on Mali earlier this week.

However, it doesn't specify when Captain Amadou Sanogo would hand over power to the head of the national assembly.

The sooner the better. The northern crisis will probably not be addressed before a legitimate government is in place in Bamako but the situation is now critical.

Tuareg-led rebels have declared independence for a vast land of lawlessness and confusion from which at least half the population, already impoverished, has fled either south or into neighbouring countries.

It is also a land where Islamist combatants, some of whom are linked to al-Qaeda, are now imposing Sharia law, and where witness accounts speak of abductions and rapes.

Regional defence chiefs of staff are drafting plans for a potential military intervention. But it would still take weeks and outside logistical help before it could be deployed.

The deal, signed by coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, states that Ecowas prepare for the ending of sanctions, but did not name a date for Capt Sanogo to hand over power.

"It will be necessary to organise a political transition leading to free, democratic and transparent elections across the whole of the territory," it states.

Officers led by Captain Sanogo seized power on 22 March, accusing the elected government of not doing enough to halt the rebellion in the north.

Earlier, international bodies rejected a call from Tuareg rebels for their newly named region of Azawad to be recognised as independent.

The secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) is one of two main groups fighting a rebellion in the north.

Ansar Dine, an Islamist group, has also made gains and has started to impose Sharia law in some towns.

Rights group Amnesty International has warned of a major humanitarian disaster in the wake of the rebellion.

Ecowas is preparing a force of up to 3,000 soldiers which could be deployed to stop the rebel advance.

France's Defence Minister, Gerard Longuet, said France could provide assistance to the force, including transport, Reuters news agency reports.

The Tuareg people inhabit the Sahara Desert in northern Mali, as well as several neighbouring countries and have fought several rebellions over the years.

They complain that they have been ignored by the authorities in the capital, Bamako.

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 32.

    @ beammeup
    Well said and spot on of Africa.God know the billion Africans need people like you to echo their injustice perpetrated on them since independence by their very own who always claimed to know them as parasites will claim on their host. We r 1 Global family. Mali need help and these tuareg just took advantage of its drawbacks unlike Maritania,Niger,Algeria and Libya they also inhabit.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 31.

    If this turns out as stated then it is not typical of politics as usual on the African continent. Nevertheless less bloodshed and less refugees it is to be welcomed.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 30.

    I loved my time in Africa - its beautiful. Then there is also the corruption, the tribal bickerings/problems, the ignorance, poverty, sickness and general want in the villages and the cities too.

    Don't worry, we wish you the best and most of us agree we should stay out of your business and let you go at it. If you succeed wonderful, if you don't well we can't be blamed then can we!!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 29.

    No African man or woman initiated imigration to the West. It is the Western government who initiate the mandate to get African come as slave of cheap labour. Westerners who traveled are looking for cheap places to enjoy, sun, sand and what have you, Even if you travel to Africa for few months you know nothing about Africa. Stop your I know rubbish

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 28.

    @26

    Yes, we travel. We choose places which are civilized is all. Nothing would be worse than ending up in some coup or other, or being targeted as a 'foreigner' or being kidnapped. Some of us come across as idiots perhaps but we are not crazy enough to enter your 'asylum'. Another clue...no one is lining up to emigrate to Mali...are they??

 

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