Mali military junta wants to delay elections for three years

(24 Aug 2020) The military junta that overthrew Mali's president wants to put off new elections for three years, an official said Monday, as the international community pressed for an immediate return to civilian rule.
A spokesman for the military rulers, though, said no decision had made on the timeline.
A mediation team from the15-nation West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS has been pressing the junta to hand over power to a civilian transitional government.
Initially, they called for ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to be reinstalled as president, but that prospect has become unlikely amid an outpouring of public support in Mali for the coup d'etat.
The ECOWAS team met on Monday morning with members of Mali's constitutional court whose decisions were at the centre of unrest in the period leading up to the coup.
Discussions resumed again on Monday between the West African delegation and the military junta.
The coup leaders want to prepare a new constitution before holding any vote, said an official in the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
The junta's proposal for a three-year gap before new elections will likely be rejected by West African regional mediators and former colonial power France.
It's 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.
Ismael Wague, spokesman for the junta, said: "All decisions relative to the duration of the transition period, to the president of the transition, to the formation of the government will be made amongst Malians, with the political parties, the social-political groups, the unions, the signatory groups (to the Algiers peace accords), civil society in conformity with our first declaration."
The official taking part in the talks over the weekend indicated there had been some movement toward releasing Keita, who has been detained along with Mali's Prime Minister since the coup a week ago.
Among the options is allowing him to stay at his residence in Bamako under surveillance instead of at the military barracks in Kati, he said.
African countries and the wider international community have expressed alarm over the coup d'etat, which deposed Keita three years before his final term was due to end.
Mali has been fighting against Islamic extremists with heavy international support for more than seven years, and jihadists have previously used power vacuums in the country to expand their territory.
The high-level regional delegation, led by Nigeria's former president, Goodluck Jonathan, held talks with the junta, including Col. Assimi Goita, who has declared himself the group's leader.
The regional delegation also has met with Keita and the other detained officials.
After the brief meetings, few details were given, but Jonathan did say that Keita was doing well.

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