The Mali military junta led by Lt.-Colonel Assimi Goita, President of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (NCSF), on Thursday, began talks with the civil society groups and political parties that led the protests resulting in the military take-over in August.
The groups are collectively known as the M5-RFP (Movement of 5 June) – the Assembly of Patriotic Forces.
Before the official ceremony began, there were skirmishes between the armed forces and militants of the M5-RFP led by Imam Mouhamoud Dicko.
Since the overthrow of the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the military and opposition parties have been unable to agree on the leadership of the transition.
This is because the military leaders continue to insist they alone would lead the transition for a period of 18 months.
On the other hand, the patriotic forces made up of the opposition parties and the Malian civil society have maintained that the transition should be led by neutral political personalities.
After the misunderstanding that took place before the official opening of the consultations today, a senior official of the Mouvement of 6 Plus 5 June, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the military of trying to confiscate the revolution.
“We want a civilian to preside over the transition, not a soldier,” the official insisted.
With a tumultuous beginning of the consultations, many fear for the future of the country especially as security forces were constrained to use teargas to disperse hundreds of supporters of the revolution that had led to the fall of President Keita.
In a related development, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has given the coup leaders till September 15, 2020, to hand over to a civilian-led transitional government.
Meeting in Niamey, Niger Republic, the ECOWAS leaders declared, “With regard to the situation in Mali, the conference reaffirms its determination to ensure a rapid return to constitutional order in this country, with a political transition led by a civilian President and Prime Minister for a period of 12 months.”
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, stressed that “the transitional President and Prime Minister must be appointed no later than September 15, 2020.”