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Mali coup leaders accept transition deal

Mali coup leaders have agreed to allow a caretaker civilian president to remain in charge for the time being.

Malian refugee boys hold buckets of water in the refugee camp of M'bere near Bassikno, south east of Mauritania. Picture: AFP
Mali,refugees,mali junta,International Association of Refugee Law Judges
World

The soldiers behind Mali's 22 March coup have agreed to allow a caretaker civilian president to remain in charge of the West African state for the time being, mediators for the ECOWAS bloc of West African states said on Saturday.

The accord comes after the 15-nation ECOWAS group threatened travel bans and other sanctions on the coup leaders for blocking an extension of the 40-day mandate of interim leader Dioncounda Traore, to whom they nominally handed over power last month.

Traore's mandate was due to run out on Monday and ECOWAS had demanded it be extended to avoid a new constitutional crisis.

"I can tell you that Captain (Amadou) Sanogo and the officers of the CNRDRE adhere to the arrangements agreed by the (ECOWAS) heads of state, particularly regarding the interim presidency," Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole, the main ECOWAS mediator told a news conference.

Bassole was standing next to coup leader Sanogo and other soldiers behind the coup while he spoke. However Sanogo himself did not make a statement.

Mid-ranking army officers behind Sanogo seized power in March in protest at the government's failure to end a Tuareg-led rebellion in the north, but the coup backfired and triggered an advance by rebels who now control two-thirds of the country.

The twin crises have led to disruptions in the local gold sector in Africa's third largest producer.

Mali's neighbours had imposed foreign asset freezes and travel bans after the power grab but they were lifted after Sanogo last month formally stood down.

Yet Traore's stint in charge has been overshadowed by the military maintaining its grip on much of day-to-day power in the country, despite a call by ECOWAS and others to return to their barracks.

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