Mali transition remains shaky
11 May 2012, 14:21
Bamako - A month after handing power to civilians, Mali's ex-junta is
resisting a return to barracks, threatening to disrupt a transition to
democratic rule in Bamako while Islamists retain a firm hold on the
The group of low-ranking soldiers led by Captain Amadou
Sanogo, which ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure's government on 22
March, last month agreed to the formation of an interim government
headed by Dioncounda Traore.
According to the constitution this
should last for 40 days, and while the Economic Community of West
African States (Ecowas) and ex-junta agreed this was too soon to
organise elections, there has been no agreement on who will run the
transition after the mandate runs out on 22 May.
have taken place between the regional mediators and the soldiers and a
new team arrived in Bamako on Tuesday to try and thrash out a solution.
can't say things are advancing," said Ivorian Minister of African
Integration Adama Bictogo, who is part of the team along with Burkina
Faso's Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole.
The main sticking point
according to those close to talks is who will lead the transition, which
Ecowas had wanted to last 12 months.
Bamako's political class,
along with the 15-nation bloc, want 70-year-old mathematician Traore to
continue as interim president, the putschists don't.
40 days, everything must go back to zero and we must agree on who will
lead the transition," said a close ally of Sanogo.
Heaviest and most pressing task
two Ecowas envoys "have twice met the soldiers but for now, there is no
result. We have the impression that some are waiting for the 40 days to
be up to take charge", a source close to the mediation team said on
condition of anonymity.
An African diplomat based in Bamako said
the best scenario would be finding a civilian president who could take
over on 22 May. "The international community and sub-region, don't want
the soldiers to lead the transition."
But observers believe this is exactly what the ex-junta wants.
is the junta who is really in charge in Bamako," writes Malian
journalist Tiegoum Boubeye Maiga, noting that the ongoing chaos in the
south was doing nothing to resolve the troubles in the north, which was
overtaken by rebel groups in the wake of the coup.
attempt at a counter-coup presents security problems in Bamako," Maiga
added, referring to clashes between paratroopers loyal to the ousted
Toure and the ex-junta soldiers.
The heaviest and most pressing
task facing a transition government, is finding a way to win back the
north, an area larger than France, which is being held by various
groups, mainly Tuareg nomads and armed Islamists supported by al-Qaeda
in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).
"The north is our main concern ... the population there and here should know that," interim leader Traore said on Wednesday.
statement was far from that made when he was sworn in on 12 April,
promising "complete and unrelenting war" against the armed groups.