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Interview: Mali - Ecowas

Ecowas to call for interim president to replace toppled Touré

Reuters/Malin Palm

West African leaders may call for the speaker of Mali’s parliament to become interim president following last week’s military coup, Burkina Faso’s foreign minister has told RFI. The Ecowas regional bloc is to send a delegation of six heads of state to the country to press for a return to constitutional order and elections.

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As part of a “transition in keeping with constitution”, the delegation is considering proposing that national assembly speaker Dioncounda Traoré become president temporarily, Burkinabé foreign minister Djibril Bassolé said in an interview with RFI’s Christophe Boisbouvier.

That would mean deposed leader Amadou Toumani Touré bow out until elections are held.

“If that is the formula that can bring an end to the crisis, why not?” Bassolé said. “And I think that President Amadou Toumani Touré himself would have nothing against it. He has always wanted peace, democracy and stability.”

Ecowas named Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré mediator in the Mali crisis and a delegation of west African military chiefs arrived in Bamako on Wednesday to prepare for the arrival of the heads of state.

Côte d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara had spoken to Touré, Bassolé revealed. “So we know that he is well.

“I don’t think he is under detention. I think he is in a safe place.”

French ambassador Christian Rouyer has also spoken to Touré on the phone, French officials say.

Thousands of people marched in support of the coup in Bamako on Wednesday, some carrying placards declaring "Down with France" or "Down with the international community".

Meanwhile, 38 political parties and several civil society groups have set up an alliance to oppose the coup, calling on the military to “engage in dialogue without delay” and organise “regular, credible and transparent elections”.

Ecowas judges confrontation of Touré supporters and junta “not at all desirable”, Bassolé said.

The bloc has warned that troops on standby if the military rulers do not engage in dialogue.

The military government on Tuesday announced a new constitution that bans its members from standing in elections.

A presidential election was due for 29 April but has been cancelled by the putshcists but the constitution guarantees law and order, basic human rights and “pluralist democracy”.

Tuareg separatists in the north have so far ignored a call for a ceasefire and talks and have made gains in fighting since the coup.

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