Mali's coup leader has agreed to return the country to constitutional rule. The announcement came only hours after separatist rebels declared independence in the north of Mali.
Mali's military government and the West African bloc ECOWAS announced on state television late Friday that a deal was brokered for a return to constitutional rule.
A statement signed by the junta's leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, and regional mediators, laid out a framework for a transition period in which parliamentary speaker Diouncounda Traore would be sworn in as interim president. It will be his job to ensure that democratic elections are held.
The deal included the lifting of diplomatic and trade sanctions and an amnesty for those involved in the coup.
ECOWAS had closed all cross-border trade with landlocked Mali and frozen its account at the regional bank in reaction to the March 22 coup by renegade soldiers. The bloc made the restoration of constitutional rule the conditional for ending the sanctions. Earlier on Friday it rejected a declaration of independence by Tuareg rebels who took control of the northern half of Mali.
One of the interim president's tasks will be to deal with the crisis in the north.
Tuareg rebels took much of the territory they now hold over a period of just three days, after the coup.
Ironically, the coup plotters said the reason they had moved to depose President Amadou Toumani Toure was their dissatisfaction with how he was dealing with the rebellion.
ncy/ai (AFP, AP, Reuters)