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Mali junta plans ‘transitional president’

Mali junta plans ‘transitional president’
Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff Ismael Wague, front row 2nd left, speaks during a press conference in Kati, Mali, Aug. 19, 2020.

Rebel troops who have taken power in Mali said on Thursday “a transitional president” would be appointed from either civilian or military ranks.

“We are going to set in place a transitional council, with a transitional president who is going to be either military or civilian,” Junta spokesman Ismael Wague told TV channel France 24.

“We are in contact with civil society, opposition parties, the majority, everyone, to try to set the transition in place.”

Wague said, “It is going to be a transition which will be the shortest possible. You’re not talking about 2023, 2022. (We have) to complete this transition as quickly as possible, and then we go back to doing something different.

“I can’t tell you when we are going to hand over power to civilians, because the transition has first to be put in place.”

The rebels have called the junta the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, headed by army colonel Assimi Goita.

On Tuesday, the mutineers overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was elected in 2018 for a second term and still had three years left to run.

Keita, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top officials are still being detained and their release is a key demand of Mali’s neighbouring countries as well as the African Union, European Union, the United States and UN.

The 75-year-old president made a television appearance in the early hours of Wednesday in which he announced his resignation and the dissolution of government, asking: “Do I really have a choice?”

“(I must) submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed,” Keita said.

When asked about Keita’s quote, Wague said: “He didn’t have a choice because he didn’t see how the people were suffering. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t have a choice because he had a gun pressed against the side of his head.”

The spokesman said problems had been accumulating and this affected the military, which is struggling with a jihadist insurgency.

“Soldiers were no longer able to carry out their core missions,” he said.

Wague refused to be drawn on Keita’s fate.

“It’s not for us to decide, (it’s) for the judicial system,” he said.

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