Mali′s interim president to return from Paris | Africa | DW | 26.07.2012
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Mali's interim president to return from Paris

Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore has announced he plans to return from Paris where he fled after being violently assaulted in Bamako.

Regional mediators from the West African body ECOWAS are insisting that interim prime minister Cheick Modibo Diarra install a new unity government by July 31. The new administration would be expected to try and deal with the hardline Islamists, who seized swathes of northern Mali four months ago.

Yet even as Diarra tries to get a new government off the ground, political parties and civil society groups are calling on him to step down.

No strategy

The United Front for the Defense of the Republic and Democracy (FDR), a grouping of parties and other organizations formed after the military coup, said in a statement that after three months the transitional government led by Diarra had "become bogged down in incompetence and amateurishness and Mali is only sinking deeper."

The FDR criticised Diarra's roadmap for a way out of the post-coup crisis, saying "the burning priorities of the nation were scarcely in evidence." Diarra was also accused of having "no strategy through war or negotiation to free the north of the country."

Cheik Modibo Diarra

Interim Prime Minister Cheik Modibo Diarra was once chairman of Microsoft Africa

Brahima Kone is the president of the Interafrican Union for Human Rights, a group of NGOs. In an interview with DW, he said calls for the prime minister's resignation would make sense, if he were surrounded by people who could lead the country through this transitional period. "People who had a roadmap that really would solve the crisis in the north and who could organize elections. That's the sort of government we need!" he said.

One of the parties in the FDR is the Malian Democratic Alliance whose leader, interim president Dioncounda Traore, announced his intention of returning home on Friday after a two month stay in Paris where he has been undergoing medical treatment.

Physical return important

The 70-year old fled Mali after being beaten up by pro-coup protestors inside his office in the capital Bamako on May 21, the eve of the official start of a transition period for the return of democratic rule. His departure left a dangerous power vacuum in the country.

Gilles Yabi is the Project Director, West Africa, for the International Crisis Group. He told DW there was a wilingness at regional level (a reference to ECOWAS) "to give the reality of power to Dioncounda Traore." He added that "his physical return was important to give a signal that the transition was not going to be monitored by the junta and some civilian actors who have no legitimacy."

Following Dioncounda Traore's departure, Islamists deepened their hold on northern Mali, implementing strict sharia law and destroying ancient World Heritage Sites in the city of Timbuktu. The occupation has also led to the displacement of some 400, 000 Malians, more than half of whom are living in refugees camps in neighboring countries.

Allegations of torture

MNLA spokesman Moussa Ag Assarid

Moussa Ag Assarid says the MNLA has no intention of going to Bamako

Tuareg rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), who were forced out of northern Mali by armed Islamists have said they would not participate in any future government.

"We have no intention of going to Bamako," MNLA spokesman in France, Moussa Ag Assarid told AFP.

ECOWAS wants to send a 3,000 strong military force to Mali, but is waiting for United Nations approval and a formal request from Bamako. The regional mediators had also said they wanted interim president Dioncounda Traore back in Mali by July 31.

Meanwhile Human Rights Watch says forces loyal to Mali's coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo were responsible for the disappearance of at least 20 people, now presumed dead. HRW also accuses Sanogo's troops of torture.

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