Mali’s new military strongman, Colonel Assimi Goita, addressing the press in Bamako on 19 August/Photo: Screenshot/F24

Malian coup leaders agree to 18-month transition to democracy

The National Committee for the Salvation of the People (NCSP) junta coup leaders have decided, after three days of talks with the main opposition political entities and civil society groups, on a timeline for Mali’s return to civilian rule.

Moussa Camara, an NCSP official read the general agreement at a public address, “The duration of the transition is set at 18 months from the date of the investiture of the transitional president.”

The NCSP had promised to honour all international agreements on fighting Islamist extremist jihadists committing violent acts of terrorism in the region after ousting ex-président Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

A move welcomed by the Malian people — many of whom had staged a 3-month protest for his resignation as they denounced government corruption and a challenged economy.

Assimi Goita, head of Mali’s military junta, issued a public statement at a media-covered conference, “We make a commitment before you to spare no effort in the implementation of all these resolutions in the exclusive interest of the Malian people. We request and hope for the understanding, support and accompaniment of the international community in this diligent and correct implementation of the Charter and the transition roadmap. The results you have achieved allow me to hope for the advent of a new, democratic, secular and prosperous Mali”.

The Bamako Conference Centre sees Malians with mixed feelings at the adoption of the charter Saturday as it assures a basic commitment and visibility to a country in political unrest upon the ousting of Keita.

One unnamed Malian who attended the convention has a practical outlook, “It’s difficult to be satisfied with such work because it’s enormous, with all the emergencies that are in Mali, but it’s time to accept this proposal and take charge of Mali.”

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This charter assigns a committee, formed by the junta, to appoint a civilian or military president to lead the 18-month set transition. Some believe the military is seizing power. Others focus on the security emergency.

Souleyman Coulibaly, another convention attendee and a representative of the business private sector shared his thoughts, “You should also know that a member of the military in power is a bit of a double-edged sword, so if that profile is on board, it’s a chance for us. But if we come across a soldier who thinks that he has the army in his pocket for his own power, it will be a really bad thing for us.”

Bigo Ag Ahmoudène, a former member of a rebel armed group from North Mali, had a more resolute stance, “For me, it is absolutely necessary (to include the participation of) the military in the transition given the security situation because military officials are the people on the frontlines.”

Pacifying the country a priority, the transition should then enable profound political and institutional reforms.

International Implications
The interim government would either be led by a military officer or a civilian for the duration of the transition. After which, presidential elections will eventually be held.

A decision that will not sit well with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders who have repeatedly called for a maximum 1-year transition as a condition to lift the already imposed sanctions on the West African nation.

The M5 opposition movement has already outrightly rejected the charter.

President Keïta was overthrown on 18 August following mass protests against his rule over corruption, the mismanagement of the economy and a dispute over legislative elections.

The coup sparked international condemnation, but it was welcomed by many Malians.

This was the fourth coup in the West African state since it gained independence from France in 1960.


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