West African envoys expected in coup-stricken Mali on Saturday
Envoys from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS are expected in Mali on Saturday for talks following the country’s coup, a member of the new junta and an ECOWAS source said Friday.
The mission to Bamako will be led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, the ECOWAS source said, describing the trip as aiming “to help the search for solutions”.
The junta official said: “We will receive the ECOWAS delegation with pleasure… it is important to talk to our brothers.”
The country’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was overthrown on Tuesday by mutinying troops, who took him as well as Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other senior officials into custody.
The coup has sent shockwaves around West Africa, sparking fears that one of the region’s most volatile states, and a front line in the fight against jihadism, could collapse.
ECOWAS — the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States — on Thursday had announced it would dispatch a high-level delegation “to ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.
It also demanded Keita be restored as president and warned the junta that it bore “responsibility for the safety and security” of the detainees.
UN human rights officials gained access to the Keita and the others on Thursday, and the junta on Friday said it had released two prisoners, retaining 17.
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