A Malian protest coalition that had campaigned against former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said Wednesday it was willing to work with the junta which ousted him in a process to restore civilian rule.
The new military rulers formally received the leaders of the June 5 Movement for the first time since seizing control of the crisis-hit country in a largely bloodless coup on August 18.
“We are willing to work with this process, we came here to exchange views and to reaffirm that we have the same positions” as the military, said Issa Kaou Djim, a leading figure in the protest movement.
“We have been reassured (by the fact) that these troops are soldiers, great intellectuals. Mali, across the entire spectrum, is in a drive to bring everyone together,” he said.
Keita, 75, was forced out by young army officers who led a mutiny at a military base at Kati, 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako.
They headed into the capital where they detained the president, along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other leaders.
The putsch — the second in eight years — has once more placed the spotlight on one of Africa’s most unstable countries, which is battling a jihadist revolt and economic slump.
The coup leaders were cheered by a large rally on Friday organised by the June 5 Movement, although they have been condemned by the country’s neighbours, the United States, African Union, the UN and European Union, with Brussels saying Wednesday it was suspending its programme of army and police training in Mali.
– ‘Substantive discussions’ –
Named after the day and month that it was launched, the June 5 Movement comprises a diverse association of grassroots groups, political parties and religious figures cemented by the demand for Keita’s resignation.
Following the roughly hour-long talks, the protest leaders were keen to present themselves as joint partners in forging a “new Mali”.
“We told the junta that it would be useful to have substantive discussions afterwards. They agree, and they said they will consult the people,” said Modibe Kone.
The next meeting is scheduled to take place on Saturday, attended by the junta’s leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, who did not take part on Wednesday, according to people at the talks.
Within hours of the coup, the junta, which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, promised to enact a political transition and stage elections within a “reasonable time”.
A mediation mission by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) failed to reach a deal on the details of the transition, but said the junta had vowed to return the country to civilian rule within less than a year.
ECOWAS is due to hold a summit on Friday to decide whether to maintain sanctions imposed after the coup, including a ban on travel and trade with Mali which threatens to deepen the country’s social and economic troubles.
Keita was elected in 2013 as a unifying figure in a fractured country and was returned in 2018 for a second five-year term.
But his popularity nosedived as he failed to break a bloody jihadist campaign that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and to reverse the country’s downward economic spiral.
Despite international opposition to the coup, analysts say Keita’s return to power is now highly unlikely.
Xi Says CPC is the ‘Strong Force’ to Lead Chinese People Forward
The past 110 years have proven that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the “strong force” to lead the Chinese people to realize national rejuvenation, President Xi Jinping said at a meeting in Beijing on Saturday marking the 110th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution.
“The Party was chosen to lead by history and by the people… Without the Communist Party there would be no new China and no national rejuvenation,” said Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The 1911 Revolution, or Xinhai Revolution, overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and put an end to the absolute monarchy in China.
The history of the Xinhai Revolution began with the Wuchang Uprising, an armed rebellion against the Qing Dynasty rulers that broke out on October 10, 1911 in what is today’s Wuchang District, Wuhan City, in central China’s Hubei Province.
The Revolution marked a historic step, leading to the establishment of the Republic of China (1912-1949) and ensuing social changes in the country.
The People’s Republic of China was then founded in 1949.
On Saturday, Xi said that “socialism with Chinese characteristics has proven to be the only correct path” to realize national rejuvenation.
“On the journey ahead, we must uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, keep adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of our times, remain firmly committed to our aspiration and our path, and make sure the future of China’s development remains firmly in our own hands,” he said.
Xi added that “the Chinese people must rely on our own heroic efforts” to achieve national rejuvenation. “Never has history taken a peaceful or tranquil course; it has always advanced amid setbacks and difficulties.”
He quoted late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who said: “Our forefathers never stopped waging unyielding struggles against domestic and foreign oppressors… By our own indomitable efforts, we the Chinese people will unswervingly reach our goal.”
Xi called on China to “seize the opportunities that the era has offered” in a world that is “undergoing momentous changes of a kind not seen in a century.”
“Through courage and skill, we will overcome all major risks and challenges that may impede our path to national rejuvenation and resolutely safeguard our national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
Xi urged that “the Chinese people and the nation must stick together through good times and bad and rely on our strong unity to overcome all risks and challenges on the road ahead.”
He noted that a united people with a great spirit of patriotism has always been “an important instrument that has allowed the CPC to rally the people’s support and pool their strength” for all endeavors.
He also pointed out that both “a stable and united domestic environment” and “a peaceful and stable international environment” are required to achieve national rejuvenation. “Our people hope to successfully realize national development, but they also hope to see all peoples of the world leading happy and peaceful lives,” he said.
“On the journey ahead, China will always fly the flag of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, strive to promote the building of a human community with a shared future, and endeavor to improve the global governance system,” Xi said.
In his speech, Xi also reiterated that the Taiwan question will be resolved as national rejuvenation becomes a reality. “This is determined by the general trend of Chinese history, but more importantly, it is the common will of all Chinese people.”
“National reunification by peaceful means best serves the interests of the Chinese nation as a whole, including our compatriots in Taiwan,” he said.
Xi called on compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to “stand on the right side of history and join hands to achieve China’s complete reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
CMG: Continue to Support Taiwan Entertainers to Perform on the Chinese Mainland
The gala celebrating the National Day of China broadcast by China Media Group (CMG) has received a warm response at home and abroad. Many entertainers from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan regions performed on stage with their mainland counterparts, presenting a high quality gala.
In response to the recent threats against actors and actresses by some media in Taiwan, the spokesperson for the Culture and Art Program Center of the China Media Group has replied as follows:
“At every major festival of China, the China Media Group will produce special programs and invite entertainer from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan to join with those in the mainland to participate in the performances and share the glory of the festival.
Taiwan entertainers participating in the variety shows and other activities are well received by the audience.
In disregard of the facts, some media have frequently threatened, intimidated, and slandered Taiwan entertainers who have contacts with the mainland. We are firmly opposed to this. We reiterate that we welcome entertainers from Taiwan to participate in our programs.”
Latest Round of Talks Between China and U.S. Concludes in Switzerland
The latest round of talks between China and the U.S. concluded in Zurich on October 6. Chinese delegates are departing after talks with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
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