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West African envoys meet with Mali's junta

August 23, 2020

The West African regional bloc is holding talks with the military to determine the next steps after the coup. While the president's ousting has been celebrated by the people, it has been widely condemned elsewhere.

ECOWAS envoys meet with the Mali junta
Image: Reuters/M. Keita

Members of West Africa's regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), met with the leaders of the Malian coup and the ousted Malian president and prime minister on Saturday.

The delegation was headed by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. The talks with soldiers, who seized power in an armed takeover on Tuesday, lasted for no more than half an hour. The discussion was supposed to last for 90 minutes, according to a provisional schedule from ECOWAS.

The group behind the coup, which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), said it welcomed ECOWAS' visit.

"We understand that the heads of state, like Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara, are working for an easing of tensions, for a peaceful solution, even if they have firmly condemned our seizing power," a CNSP source told news agency AFP. "We are open to discussion."

Read moreIsolation beckons as ECOWAS piles pressure on junta leaders

Protesters gather in Bamako
Thousands of Malians celebrated the coup at Bamako's Independence Square on FridayImage: picture-alliance/AA/A. O. Toure

Ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse are being held at the Kati military base outside of the capital, Bamako.

"We saw him (Keita), he is doing very well," Jonathan told reporters.

The former Nigerian president did not provide any details on the talks, saying only that discussions were "going well."

A CNSP member said coup leaders have released former economy minister Abdoulaye Daffe and Keita's private secretary Sabane Mahalmoudou, telling AFP that it was "proof that we respect human rights."

Widely condemned outside of Mali

CNSP supporters have taken to the streets throughout the week in Bamako to celebrate Tuesday's coup. CNSP spokesman Ismael Wague addressed the crowd on Friday.

"We merely completed the work that you began and we recognize ourselves in your fight," he said.

The coup has been widely condemned around the world. ECOWAS, the African Union, France and United States have all come out against the rebellion.

ECOWAS suspended Mali from the group soon after the coup and urged member states to close their borders with the country.

kbd/nm (AFP, Reuters, dpa)