Mali’s military government has pushed through a political charter to establish an 18-month transition government 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, meant to chart the country’s course after the August 18 coup that toppled embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, came on Saturday after three days of negotiations between the military government, political leaders and civil society groups.
Regional and international powers, fearful that political instability will undermine a years-long fight against armed groups across West Africa’s Sahel region, have pushed for a swift transition back to civilian rule.
The charter says the interim president can be a civilian or a soldier and will preside over a transitional period of 18 months before elections are held, said Moussa Camara, the spokesman for the talks.
The interim president will be selected by electors chosen by the military government, Camara said.
A previous draft of the charter had said the transition would last two years and the interim president would be directly chosen by the military rulers, the so-called National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP).
“We make a commitment before you to spare no effort in the implementation of all these resolutions in the exclusive interest of the Malian people,” CNSP president Colonel Assimi Goita said on Saturday.
“What awaits us now is the hard work, the implementation of these resolutions.”
Even as some participants touted the consensual nature of the talks, the M5-RFP coalition that spearheaded months of protests demanding Keita’s departure before the coup criticised the charter’s failure to ensure civilian rule of the transition.
“It’s the people who overthrew IBK. It’s up to them to choose the new president,” said Youssouf Maiga, an M5-RFP supporter, referring to Keita by his initials.
Late on Saturday, the M5-RFP said in a statement the final version of the charter did not reflect the results of talks, which it said included a majority vote for a civilian interim president.
“M5-RFP distances itself from the resulting document which does not reflect the views and decisions of the Malian people,” the coalition said.
The charter also puts the military government on a collision course with Mali’s West African neighbours, who have insisted the interim president be a civilian and the transition last no longer than one year.