Mali junta chief's govt role softened after regional pressure
AFP, , Thursday 1 Oct 2020

Mali's military junta has abandoned a contentious measure that would have enabled its leader to potentially replace the interim civilian leader of the Sahel state, according to an official document released Thursday.

Under an early roadmap for restoring civilian rule after the August 18 coup, seen by AFP, junta head Colonel Assimi Goita was empowered to replace the president of the interim government if the latter were incapacitated.

Goita is vice president of an interim government that is due to govern Mali for 18 months before staging elections; former colonel Bah Ndaw is its president.

But the possibility of Goita replacing Ndaw sparked friction among the country's neighbours, who said it was unacceptable.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heaped pressure on Mali to swiftly restore civilian rule after army officers toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, imposing sanctions against the country and shutting its borders.

The bloc has also urged Mali to publish the roadmap -- or 'transition charter' -- that sets out the interim government's powers.

On Thursday, a final version of the roadmap was published in Mali's official journal, with no mention of the interim vice president replacing the president.

"The vice president is in charge of defence and security," the document said.

Current ECOWAS trade restrictions include a ban commercial trade and financial flows, but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.

As well as pushing for civilian leaders for Mali's interim government, the bloc wants the junta to release officials arrested during the coup.