Former President, Goodluck Jonathan, will lead other West African leaders to coup-torn Mali today in fresh attempt for solution to the political crisis in the West African country.
Mali’s elected President, Ibrahim Keita, was overthrown on Tuesday by mutinying soldiers, who took him, and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, as well as other senior officials into custody.
In a related development, the United Nations said yesterday that it had gained access to ousted President Keita while rebel troops said they had released two other detained leaders, in developments that followed mounting international pressure on the new junta.
The coup sent shockwaves around West Africa, sparking fears that one of the region’s most volatile states, and a frontline in the fight against jihadism, could collapse.
Diplomatic sources confirmed that the new ECOWAS delegation, led by Jonathan, is expected to arrive in Bamako today (Saturday) with plans “to negotiate the immediate release of Keita and to also ensure the restoration of constitutional government.”
Jonathan, who is ECOWAS Special Envoy to Mali, alongside 14 other leaders in the region, will meet with the junta leaders, including Assimi Goita who had declared himself the head.
Reacting to the request for a meeting with the leaders, a junta official told AFP: “We will receive the ECOWAS delegation with pleasure… it is important to talk to our brothers.”
Earlier on Tuesday before the coup, Jonathan while briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, said Mali’s main opposition group, M5, was adamant on its call for the resignation of Keita.
Keita, who later appeared in a state television broadcast on Wednesday, declared the dissolution of the government and National Assembly and said he had no choice but to resign with immediate effect.
“If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice? (I must) submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed,” the 75-year-old said.
The United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States, amongst others, had since condemned the coup.
ECOWAS had on Thursday announced that it would dispatch a high-level delegation “to ensure the immediate return of constitutional order.”
It also demanded that Keita be restored as president and warned the junta that it bore “responsibility for the safety and security” of the detainees.