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.
CGTN Welcomes Ofcom’s Recognition of its Right to Broadcast in UK
China Global Television Network (CGTN) on Saturday welcomed the acknowledgement of the British media regulator that CGTN’s right to broadcast in Europe falls under French jurisdiction, which paves the way for its return to broadcasting in the UK after being taken off the air there two months ago.
The Office of Communications (Ofcom) of the United Kingdom on Friday said that it recognized that CGTN’s operations in Europe are in French jurisdiction, according to the Financial Times, which under the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, to which the UK is a signatory, allows it to resume airing programs in the country.
CGTN said on Saturday it is in contact with its broadcast licensee to verify the relevant information.
“We applaud and welcome the UK regulatory authorities’ return to objectivity and impartiality,” said CGTN via a spokesperson.
“As a professional international media organization, CGTN reports the world in an objective, fair and balanced manner and promote exchanges among people of all countries and regions. CGTN always respects and abides by the laws and regulations of the countries and regions where we operate,” added the spokesperson.
On February 4, 2021, Ofcom pulled CGTN off British airwaves after 18 years of services in the country, following an investigation into the broadcasting license of the outlet. CGTN has maintained that it “complies with the laws and regulations of every country” and expressed disappointment in the ruling that was “based on the so-called political nature of CGTN and related Chinese media organizations.”
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