Mali junta prepares to hand over power to civilians | News | DW | 07.04.2012
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Mali junta prepares to hand over power to civilians

As the junta gets ready to hand over power to an interim civilian government, world leaders respond favorably to what they hope will bring security to Mali whilst ending the Tuareg independence bid in the North.

Mali's coup leader was preparing on Saturday to hand power over to civilians within days in exchange for a lifting of sanctions and help in tackling Tuareg rebels who have seized much of the North.

"It is the will of the committee to quickly move towards the transition," coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said.

"In the next few days you will see a prime minister and a government in place," he said.

On March 22, Sanogo and other disgruntled soldiers ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure over what they perceived as poor handling of the Tuareg rebellion.

Their coup backfired, however, and emboldened the Tuaregs to seize the northern half of Mali, where they have since declared an independent state.

Watch video 01:50

Returning to civilian rule

International pressure had been growing on the coup leaders, which peaked on Friday when the Tuareg rebels claimed the "Azawad" nation as their homeland in northern Mali.

The deal will see the junta hand over power in return for an amnesty from prosecution, as well as the lifting of sanctions.

World powers on Saturday welcomed the news of intentions to restore Mali to civilian rule and reiterated their opposition to Tuareg rebels, declaring independence in their so-called Azawad state.

Plans for moving forward

The accord, agreed to by Sanogo and the 15-state West African bloc ECOWAS, did not specify when the handover would start. Under the agreement, Toure must formally resign, and the junta must relinquish power to a unity government, with Mali's parliament speaker Diouncounda Traore serving as interim president.

Traore, center, Mali's parliamentary head who was forced into exile after last month's coup, walks with Burkina Faso's Foreign Affairs Minister Djibrill Bassole, right, as Traore arrives at the airport to take up his constitutionally-mandated post as interim president, in Bamako, Mali Saturday, April 7, 2012.

Traore (center) faces a difficult task

Elections would follow soon after, once security in the North is restored.

Traore, in an interview with Burkina Faso state radio, said on Saturday that the top priority was to restore order to Mali's state institutions and deal with the rebellion in the North.

"Our goal is the territorial integrity of Mali and the pursuit of our democratic project," Traore said.

Making progress

ECOWAS on Saturday formally lifted sanctions, which were imposed last week and had prompted panic-buying at gas stations and queues at banks, to the welcome relief of Bamako's residents.

"We are optimistic it is going to be handled well, because the leaders of all of the political parties will be involved," Bamako local Fomba Yefing said at a small rally of women and children wielding banners with slogans such as "All we want is peace."

"It is not about who is in charge, it is about doing things by the constitution," she added.

tm/ncy (Reuters, AP)

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