3/31/2012

Coup Leader in Mali Says Military Wants Cooperation With ECOWAS

VOA

Malian coup leader Amadou Sanogo says the military honors all Mali agreements with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other economic partners.
Sanogo told VOA in a phone interview Friday that Mali is a part of the regional group known as the ECOWAS and needs international support to protect its territorial integrity as Tuareg rebels continue to make advances. He expressed regret that a planned meeting between his representatives and regional leaders did not take place.
“Alone, Mali cannot live. We need our neighboring countries. We need regional and international organizations and all our partners in these troubled times. I am committed to pursue the process and have their favors, to make them listen to Mali. It's the only way to end this crisis.”
The coup leaders are facing growing international pressure to give up power. On Thursday, regional leaders gave the military junta three days to restore constitutional order.
However, Remi Ajebewa, a top ECOWAS official, told VOA the regional bloc will accept a solution that does not reinstate President Amadou Toumani Toure.
“We want the military junta to understand that they cannot come to power through unconstitutional means. And as such, they should either relinquish power or look for somebody credible right now [to rule], and then they should give us a roadmap of what they are going to do.”
Sanogo told VOA that the coup was a necessity and reiterated his earlier pledge that the junta will not seek to stay in power.
“My committee will not stay. We came to power because we had to. Then, we will progressively, and as soon as possible, go back to the constitutional order to let Malians elect a president. Then we will go back to our barracks and do our mission.”
Sanogo also said that the military is not determined to capture President Amadou Toumani Toure who is still at large. The coup leader said that he is now head of state in Mali and has all the honors and privileges that go with it, with the support of Malian people.
Meanwhile, the rebels entered the town of Kidal on Friday, a day after launching an offensive on the remote town, the capital of Mali's Kidal region.
Reports from the area say the rebels group MNLA was assisted by an Islamist group known as Ansar Edine.
Sanogo acknowledged that the situation is bad, but suggested that the situation may change.
Earlier in the day, a delegation of West African presidents abandoned plans to meet with the junta leaders in Mali's capital, Bamako, because of a pro-coup demonstration at the airport. The regional group instead held an emergency meeting in Ivory Coast.
President Toure was deposed last week in a coup by soldiers angry at his handling of the Tuareg rebellion in the north. Mr. Toure told French media on Wednesday that he is not in detention and remains in the country.
The rebellion began in January, a couple of months after heavily-armed Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they were assisting ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The coup came just weeks before elections and the scheduled end of Mr. Toure's term.