There is hope that a compromise can be reached with Mali’s ruling military junta on the timeline for restoring democratic rule, Senegal President and African Union (AU) chairman Macky Sall said on Thursday.
Mali’s military government, which first came to power in an August 2020 coup, has been negotiating with West Africa’s regional bloc on how long they can hold power.
The junta issued a decree on Monday fixing the 24-month timetable, to be counted from March 2022, TOS NEWS reported.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it regretted Mali’s decision to publish a timeline during negotiations.
“ECOWAS regrets that while negotiations are still ongoing to reach a consensus, the Malian authorities took this decision on the transition,” the bloc said in a late Monday statement.
It said an ECOWAS negotiator would continue to engage Malian authorities to reach a “mutually agreed timeline”.
“Obviously it was clumsy of them to publish (the timeline), but it was the product of an agreement with the mediator,” said Sall in an interview with French broadcasters RFI and France 24.
The 15-member regional bloc that has been pushing for a shorter extension of 16 months at most imposed crippling sanctions on Mali since early this year.
The stiff sanctions were imposed after the military rulers said they would not organise democratic elections the following month as initially planned.
According to the bloc, an agreement on the transition would pave the way for the sanctions to be lifted.
“We will see between now and July if the conditions are met for ECOWAS to lift the sanctions,” he said, explaining that the regional heads of state had requested more details about the proposal.
The next ECOWAS summit is scheduled for July 3.