Conflicts & War

Mali opposition sidles up to junta, regional powers turn their backs

By Idrissa Diakité

Bamako, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Mali’s opposition has dismissed international criticism and offered its initial backing to the military factions de facto ruling the country following this week’s coup, which ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his government.

The united opposition group M5-RFP, one of the main backers of the months-long protests against Keita following contested elections in the West African country, called for a transition roadmap in a statement released late Wednesday.

The announcement came after the party’s top brass met with the new leaders of the junta, the self-styled National Committee for the Salvation of the People, which has since named Assimi Goita, a colonel with an obscure history, as its leader.

A sense of normality had returned to the Malian capital Bamako on Thursday morning with public transport up and running, banks and shops open for business and people milling around the markets. There was no notable military presence on the streets.

It was this sense of normality that the NCSP wanted to prioritize following what was a bloodless coup and the junta’s spokesman Ismael Wague has called on Malians to return to work.

Although the coup had the full backing of the public, there is a growing sense of unease in the population now in light of a potential embargo implemented by regional powers.

The African Union suspended Mali’s membership “until restoration of constitutional order” and demanded the release of Keita and his government members, all of whom resigned under pressure from the coup-plotters.

The Economic Community of West African States, from which Mali has also been suspended, is due to meet in Abuja on Thursday to discuss a possible trade embargo on the country.

Neighboring Ivory Coast has already announced it would cease economic relations with Mali.

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