The August 18 coup triggered shockwaves among Mali's neighbours, fearing that one of the region's most volatile countries would spiral into chaos.

Former Nigerian president and mediator for ECOWAS, Goodluck Jonathan, arrives to meet with Colonel Assimi Goita, self-declared leader of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, in Bamako, Mali,  August 24, 2020.
Former Nigerian president and mediator for ECOWAS, Goodluck Jonathan, arrives to meet with Colonel Assimi Goita, self-declared leader of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, in Bamako, Mali, August 24, 2020. (AP)

Talks between West African mediators and Mali's military coup leaders have ended after three days of discussions without any decision on the make-up of a transitional government, a junta spokesman has said.

West Africa's regional bloc dispatched negotiators to Mali on the weekend in a bid to reverse President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's removal from power last week.

But talks on Monday had focused on who would lead Mali and for how long, rather than the possibility of reinstating the president, diplomats said.

The coup has raised the prospects of further political turmoil in Mali which, like other countries in the region, is facing an expanding threat from militants.

READ MORE: Mali's junta want to rule for 3 years, will free ousted president

Interim administration to be decided locally

Colonel Ismael Wague said on Monday mediators would report to regional heads of state ahead of a summit on Mali this week but, highlighting the backing the soldiers enjoy, the final decision on the interim administration would be decided locally.

"Nothing has been decided. Everyone has given their point of view," Wague told reporters. "The final decision of the structure of the transition will be made by us Malians here."

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who led the regional mediation team, said they requested and were granted access to Keita.

"President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita told us that he has resigned. That he was not forced to do so. That he does not want to return to politics and that he wants a quick transition to allow the country to return to civilian rule," Jonathan told reporters.

Jonathan said, "We have agreed on a number of issues, but there are some issues that we have not agreed. So on those issues we told the military officers the thinking of ECOWAS and we asked them to go and review."

Talks were taking place with the threat of regional sanctions hanging over the junta, known as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP).

"(Mediators) will discuss this with the heads of state so they can lift or at least ease the sanctions. Sanctions are not good for us or the population," Wague said.

The regional branch of West Africa's BCEAO central bank reopened on Monday.

READ MORE: A timeline of Mali’s recent political instability

Transition options

Four sources, who have direct contact with people involved in talks, had said earlier that Keita would not be involved in any transition.

Two sources said a year-long transition, similar to the one in Niger following a 2010 coup, was on the table. Another source said the junta was eager to prioritise reforms over elections so it could be longer.

Wague earlier denied reports by French radio RFI that the CNSP wanted a three-year transitional government led by a soldier and mostly made up of the military.

An African diplomat monitoring the talks said that ECOWAS was keen to push for a "short transition" with a focus on holding the elections and allowing an elected civilian administration to handle the reforms afterwards.

However, several analysts warned against rushing to fresh elections without addressing the corruption and mismanagement that the soldiers and opposition leaders who led weeks of protests in the run up to the coup complained about.

"We did that in 2012 and here we are with another coup," said Lori-Anne Theroux-Benoni, head of the Dakar office of the Institute for Security Studies, referring to the vote that brought Keita to power in 2013 after his predecessor was also ousted.

"We should be innovative and use the time of the transition to make the process of the reform irreversible," she said. "This might take longer than what some international actors want."


To the outside world, last week's political upheaval bore all the hallmarks of a coup. Soldiers at the Kati barracks launched a mutiny in the morning, and then began rounding up officials in Bamako. 

They later encircled the private residence where Keita was staying with his prime minister and fired shots into the air. The junta has maintained they took him into custody for his own protection.

Just before midnight he appeared on state broadcaster ORTM and announced his immediate resignation, and the dissolution of his government and the National Assembly.

Before dawn, five military officers crowded around a table and announced their committee was now in control.

Keita, who had won the 2013 democratic election in a landslide, was re-elected five years later. His popularity plummeted though as his government failed to rein in militants in the north and the military faced punishing losses from them. 

Others pointed to his use of a private jet and his son's influential position in the National Assembly as signs he was out of touch with a suffering nation.

Demonstrators had begun taking to the streets to call for Keita's resignation back in June. He offered concessions and regional mediators intervened, but his opponents made it clear they would accept nothing short of his departure.

READ MORE: Mali opposition halts protests with regional talks around the corner

Source: TRTWorld and agencies