Envoys Optimistic after Meeting with Mali Military Junta

West African envoys led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said they were optimistic after talks in Mali’s capital city of Bamako with the military junta that forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign and disband the government earlier this week.”The interviews are going well,” Jonathan said Saturday night, according to Agence France-Presse.Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation also met with the ousted president and the other government and military officials detained by the rebel soldiers.”We have seen President Keita, he is doing very well,” Jonathan said, according to AFP.The ECOWAS envoys met for about 30 minutes with members of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, including Col. Assimi Goita, the leader of the junta.A spokesperson for the military, Ismael Wague, agreed the talks “are going very well.”The president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, said the discussions would continue for a second day Sunday.The envoys’ visit comes one day after thousands crowded into Mali’s capital in a raucous show of support for the military junta.Demonstrators in Bamako also denounced ECOWAS for condemning the coup and for closing Mali’s borders to neighbors in the regional bloc’s 14 other member nations.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
A man holds a banner against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Misiion in Mali (MINUSMA) and Barkhane, an anti-insurgent operation, during a protest to support the Malian army in Bamako, Mali, on Aug. 21, 2020.“An act of mutiny in Mali is strongly condemned,” Karns continued. “It is an act that is inconsistent with the legitimate role of the military in free societies and everything that is taught in the U.S. military and its training.”The junta leaders have promised to hold elections within nine months.“This gives an assurance that they’re not here to remain in power,” said Yeah Samake, a leader of the Malian opposition coalition known as the Movement of June 5-Reassembly of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP).Samake said he was encouraged by their plan for a transition team in which the military would hold six of 24 seats and then would be forming a unity government.“They are working with the people,” Samake said.The opposition leader said he considers the coup “a turning point from corruption, from ill governance, to a more efficient leadership,” but he cautioned the junta leaders to stay true to their pledge to cede control.“The people of Mali are going to remain mobilized and vigilant, making sure that the power belongs to the people – and that power is for the well-being and the welfare of the people of Mali.”A more pessimistic view comes from John Campbell, who served twice as U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and now is a senior fellow for African policy studies with the Council on Foreign Relations.“A way to think about the coup is that it essentially occurred in the political class. Mali has been run for a long time by a political class and the military, and the two interpenetrate,” Campbell told VOA. “So, it was not a coup  against  those that have been running the country, but rather more or less  among  those that have been running the country.”Despite the celebratory nature of Friday’s demonstration in Bamako, the coup likely “won’t mean very much in terms of addressing the fundamental problems that Mali faces,” Campbell said, elaborating on a recent blog post.Mali confronts sizable challenges, with half of its 19 million people living in poverty. It also faces deep ethnic divisions and threats from Islamist jihadists in the country’s north.VOA’s Pentagon correspondent, Carla Babb, contributed to this report, which originated with the Bambara service in VOA French to Africa. Other contributors are English to Africa’s Peter Clottey and Adam Phillips, and the Somali service’s Harun Maruf.     

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