Colonel Assimi Goita: head of the Mali junta

Agency Reporter

Mali’s junta, which seized power two weeks ago has invited for talks the June 5 Movement, which spearheaded the protests that led to the toppling of president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The movement, along with other political parties and civil society groups, will discuss a transition programme this weekend with the junta, as pressure mounts for a quick handover to civilian rule.

The movement was not invited for transition talks last Saturday when the junta called off discussions at the last minute.

“These meetings aim at drawing up a roadmap for the transition, to define the outlines and organs of the transition and to define the charter of the transition,” the junta said in a statement Tuesday.

The August 18 putsch has prompted Mali’s neighbours along with ally and former colonial ruler France to call for a swift transfer of power, amid worries over instability in a country struggling with an Islamist insurgency, ethnic violence, endemic corruption and economic malaise.

The other players invited to the talks on Saturday and Sunday include former rebels, unions and representatives from the media.

The June 5 group has demanded that the military rulers give it a role in the transition to civilian rule, which the military has promised without setting a timetable.

“We will not give a blank cheque to anyone to run this country, that’s over,” he said.

“We led the fight,” he said. “People have died and the soldiers who have completed (this fight) must keep their word.”

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States regional bloc has been piling pressure on the junta to hand over power quickly, fearing that the crisis could impact neighbouring states.

ECOWAS mediator and former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, said last week that the coup leaders wanted a three-year transition period.

This was rejected by the bloc, which has demanded an immediate civilian transition and elections within 12 months.

ECOWAS slapped sanctions on Mali after the coup, including a closure of borders and ban on trade and financial flows.