West African leaders urge civilian rule in Mali within days

ABURI, GHANA (AP) — West African leaders have emphasised that Mali’s junta should nominate civilian transitional leaders within days to lead the nation toward elections, Ghana’s President said following a regional summit.

Six leaders from the West African regional economic bloc, ECOWAS, met with Mali’s junta on Tuesday in Ghana, whose President now serves as the bloc’s new chairman. They agreed the junta must install a civilian president and vice president.

ECOWAS insisted that the transitional leaders must be civilians, rejecting the junta’s suggestion that the leaders could come from the military.

“We need a civilian leadership of the transition,” Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said after the summit.

“From the minute that leadership is put in place,” the regional sanctions on Mali will be lifted, he said. This should be accomplished within days, not weeks, he said.

The regional leaders appear to have accepted the junta’s call for an 18-month transitional period to new elections, instead of the one-year timeline that the regional bloc originally proposed.

Delegates attend a conference to discuss a transition to a civilian government in Bamako, Mali. PHOTO: AP