Mali must appoint civilian government – claim

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Mali military coup leaders must hand power to a civilian transitional government immediately, the chairman of the West African regional bloc said, as a deadline expired for the ruling junta to appoint interim leaders.

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed economic sanctions after the August 18 overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and said a new president should be appointed by Tuesday.

The junta pushed through a charter on Saturday saying the interim president can be a soldier or a civilian and has not indicated when the new government would be named.

Regional presidents met junta leaders on Tuesday in Ghana to quicken the transition.

“Today is supposed to be the day the junta is to put in place a government, which should respond to criteria we set out in August. That has not been met,” said Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, acting ECOWAS chair, before talks.

Regional leaders fear the coup could set a precedent in West Africa and undermine a fight in Mali and neighbouring countries in the Sahel region against Islamist militants with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

“That country can no longer afford any delay in putting a responsible government in place,” he said.

West African leaders have not said what the consequences would be for failing to meet the deadline. Existing sanctions include border closure and suspension of financial flows.

The charter approved at multi-party talks in Mali calls for an 18-month transition while ECOWAS said fresh elections should be held within a year.