Mali military wants to remain in power for three years, agrees to free president

The military junta that seized power in Mali says it wants to remain in power for three years.

A delegation led by former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan arrived in Mali on Saturday to negotiate the release of ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and the restoration of constitutional government.

The delegation was set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) following the political crisis in Mali.

According to Al-Jazeera, a source in the ECOWAS delegation said Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, who was detained alongside Keita at a military base outside the capital, would be moved to a secure residence in the city.

“The junta has affirmed that it wants a three-year military-led transition to review the foundations of the Malian state. This transition will be directed by a body led by a soldier, who will also be head of state,” the source was quoted to have said.

“The government will also be predominantly composed of soldiers”

The source added that the junta has agreed to “free President Keita” and “he will be able to return to his home” in Bamako.

“And if he wants to travel abroad for treatment, that is not a problem.”

Ismael Wague, spokesman for the military junta, said: “We reached compromise on certain aspects and the negotiations will continue tomorrow.”

On his part, Jonathan told journalists that the delegation and the Malian military “want the country to move on” and ” are discussing the way forward”.

“We have reached a number of agreements but we have not reached agreement on all the issues,” he said.

While the Mali coup was met with international condemnation, thousands Malians celebrated the president’s ouster in the streets of Bamako.

The junta had said it “completed the work” of the protesters and has vowed to stage elections “within a reasonable time”.

Keita won an election in a landslide in 2013, presenting himself as a unifying figure in a fractured country, and was re-elected in 2018 for another five-year term.

But he failed to make headway against the jihadist revolt that has left swathes of the country in the hands of armed Islamists and ignited ethnic violence in the country’s volatile centre.

Former president Jonathan met Keita on Saturday and said that he seemed “very fine”.

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