Mali needs to focus on security: Nigerian President

BAMAKO, MALI (AP) — Mali needs to focus on its security, under threat from extremists, and put individual interests aside after a coup last week deposed the president and left a power vacuum, Nigeria’s President said after discussing negotiations with the junta with a regional envoy.

West African mediators with the regional bloc known as ECOWAS suspended talks with Mali’s military junta on Monday after failing to reach an agreement on who will lead the volatile country in a transition back to democracy.

The junta calling itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People proposed pushing back Mali’s next election until 2023, while ECOWAS and others want a return to civilian rule as soon as possible. The junta’s proposed timeframe is more than double the time it took to hold a vote after a similar coup in 2012, and would allow the soldiers who overthrew a democratically elected president to remain in power for years.

The mediators told the junta leaders that “what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an Interim Government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months”.

“The Interim Government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order,” former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan told Nigeria’s current President Muhammadu Buhari, according to a statement from his office.

Jonathan served as the head of the group of mediators who held talks last week in Bamako, Mali.

African countries and the wider international community expressed fears that Mali’s upheaval could allow extremists in the country to extend their reach.

Former Nigerian president and mediator for the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS Goodluck Jonathan. PHOTO: AP