West Africa: Mali - Ecowas, Junta Leaders End Talks

The delegation headed by Goodluck Jonathan has left Bamako without reaching an agreement on who to head the transition and for how long.

Talks between a delegation of West African envoys and the military officers who overthrew Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita have ended without a deal on how the country should return to civilian rule following last week's coup. The mediation team from the regional bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would report to heads of state on progress made before a summit on Mali later this week, Colonel Ismael Wague said late on Monday, but the military spokesman added that the final decision on the makeup of an interim transitional administration would be decided "by Malians".

He added that no timeline had been established for elections to return the country to civilian rule. The coup leaders previously said they would stage elections "within a reasonable time".

Before leaving the Malian capital, on Monday night the head of the ECOWAS delegation, Goodluck 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."

Separately, the two sides meeting in the capital, Bamako, said Keita whose return to office had been initially demanded by ECOWAS, no longer wished to resume duties. He maintained that Keita, whose term was set to expire in 2023, had resigned of his own free will and not because he was under pressure from mutinous soldiers. The ECOWAS delegation met the 75-year-old former president, who was being held at the military barracks in Kati, near the capital, Bamako. "President Keita told us that he has resigned, that he was not forced to do so and that he does not want to return," former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who led the delegation, said on Monday. "He says he wants a quick transition to allow the country return as soon as possible to a civilian regime. He reiterated.

The August 18 coup against Keita triggered shock waves among Mali's neighbours, who feared that a country hit by escalating violence would spiral into chaos. Apart from international condemnation the West African economic bloc has suspended Mali from its decision-making institutions, shut borders and halted financial flows with the country.

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