Mali’s military junta has approved a charter that could lead to the appointment of a soldier as interim president despite objections from the coalition that led anti-government protests before last month’s coup.
Approval for the road map, came on Saturday after three days of negotiations between the military government, political leaders, and civil society groups.
Spokesperson Moussa Camara said the interim government would either be led by a military officer or a civilian.
The pledge came after three days of talks with opposition and civil society groups on a timeline for Mali’s return to civilian rule.
According to the Transition Charter, which was adopted by some 500 participants from different forces of the nation after three days of consultations, the eventual transitional president will be either a military or a civilian.
The transitional president and his or her vice president, a government will be formed with a maximum of 25 members under the leadership of a prime minister who will be appointed by the transitional president in accordance with the current constitution.
Also, during the period of transition, a National Council of 121 members composed of those from the political forces will be set up as the legislative body.
In a brief closing speech, Colonel Assimi Goita, president of the CNSP, welcomed the spirit that animated these meetings and made the commitment that the junta will rigorously ensure the implementation of the documents validated by the participants after the three-day consultations.
Leaders of the anti-government protests have been vocal in their criticism of the new plan. With the possibility of a soldier leading the transitional government, it fails to ensure civilian rule right away, they say.
In the early hours of Aug. 19, five men in various shades and styles of military fatigues took to Mali’s national TV station to introduce themselves. The mid-ranking officers had begun the previous day with a mutiny in the garrison town of Kati and ended it by arresting the president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in the capital, Bamako.
Keita was criticized for his inability to deal with the country’s economic issues and control terrorists insurgency in the region.
The 75-year-old former leader flew to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 5 September for medical treatment, after suffering a minor stroke, military officials said.
International powers, fearful that political instability will undermine a fight against armed groups across West Africa’s Sahel region, have pushed for a swift transition back to civilian rule.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States has taken a hard line, insisting that Mali’s coup leaders hand over power within 12 months. It has also closed borders and banned trade with the nation of some 19 million people.
West African heads of state, many of whom are dealing with their own versions of the crises in Mali and have designs to hold onto power past their mandates, have no interest in legitimizing coups in their own back yard. Yet even they have backed away from their calls for Keita to be reinstated, while at the same time pressuring the junta to put in place a civilian leader immediately.
Moving Mali forward requires political will from domestic and international actors to discard the old playbook and stitch together a stronger foundation of political representation and legitimacy, and, where the requisite political will exists, a willingness to invest in the unglamorous work of strengthening governing capacity.