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ECOWAS Gives Mali Junta Ultimatum To Name Civilian Transitional President

Leaders of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Monday have given the military junta in Mali until Sept. 15 to name a transitional president and a prime minister.

This was contained in a statement released by ECOWAS at the end of a summit held in Niamey, Niger on Monday.

The 15-nation bloc said the president and prime minister, who will lead the transitional government, should be civilians.

The meeting maintained the sanctions it imposed on Mali in the aftermath of the coup.

But it also welcomed steps taken by the junta in the past week to start talks with Mali’s political parties and civil society groups over the transition.

ECOWAS closed its borders with landlocked Mali and halted financial flows amid concerns that the military coup could undermine the democratic gains in the region.

A group of army colonels has ruled Mali since ousting President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Aug. 18.

No consensus has yet been reached on the make-up and duration of a transitional government ahead of promised elections.

ECOWAS is calling for a swift return to civilian rule and a vote within a year, a timeline the junta, the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), has not committed to.

ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, said both the president and prime minister must be appointed by Sept. 15 at the latest.

Talks in the capital Bamako about the transition period got off to a bumpy start on Saturday, when supporters of the influential M5-RFP political coalition accused the junta of sidelining them.

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The junta’s negotiations, which are also being held in regional capitals across Mali, will continue later this week.

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