Mali Coup Talks at an Impasse Over Transition to Civilian Rule

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The ouster of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has left regional leaders struggling to find a way to return the country to civilian rule.

Talks between the junta and Economic Community of West African States ended Monday without resolving when the military will arrange elections or release Keita, who’s been in captivity since his arrest on Aug. 18. West African heads of state are now expected to meet Wednesday to discuss the way forward.

“Our advice is that the transition doesn’t drag on,” Nigerien Foreign Minister Kalla Ankourao told Radio France Internationale late Monday. “We want a civilian at the helm of a transitional authority or at least a retired army officer. They proposed two years this morning. We think this is too long.”

READ: Who’s Who Guide to Power Brokers in Mali’s Political Crisis (1)

Keita, 75, dissolved his government and resigned under pressure from soldiers who detained him hours after staging a mutiny at an army barracks on the outskirts of Bamako, the capital. Previous mediation efforts by Ecowas failed to resolve the impasse between Keita’s government and a popular protest movement that had demanded he step down in the weeks leading up to the military takeover.

The junta wants political parties, civil society, religious groups and the army to decide on the structure of any transitional government, spokesman Ismael Wague told closely held Horon TV on Monday.

“We won’t decide anything,” Wague said, denying reports that the junta plans to head the transition. “It is the Malians together who will decide.”

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