WEST African mediators were due to meet on Wednesday with Mali’s interim president and prime minister, who are both detained by the military, in a bid to resolve a political crisis that has threatened to derail a transition back to democracy.
The military arrested President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on Monday. Interim vice president Colonel Assimi Goita, who led a coup against the previous president last August, said on Tuesday he had stripped the men of their posts because they failed to consult him about a cabinet reshuffle.
Mali’s neighbours and international powers have condemned the takeover, which they fear could further destabilise a country that Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have used as a launch pad for attacks across the region.
The Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS), the main regional bloc, dispatched a delegation to the capital Bamako on Tuesday.
Led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (pictured), it met Goita late on Tuesday and will meet on Wednesday morning with Ndaw and Ouane, who are still being held at the Kati military base outside Bamako.
In his statement on Tuesday, Goita said the president and prime minister had violated the transitional charter put in place after the coup against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August by failing to consult him about the new cabinet, in which two former coup leaders lost their posts.
Goita promised that elections planned for next year at the end of an 18-month transitional period would go ahead.
He also accused the government of mishandling the situation in Mali, including a strike last week by the main union. The union said on Tuesday it would suspend the strike in light of the political crisis.