MALI: Women in the Capital Bamako Call for Peace and National Unity

Sunday, April 8, 2012
ITN Source
Western Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes

Malian women gathered in Bamako at a rally on Saturday (April 7) after leaders of Mali's coup and neighbouring countries agreed a plan under which the two-week-old junta will hand over power in return for the end of trade and diplomatic sanctions.

Under the plan, signed by mediators and junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, the military government will hand over power to parliament speaker Diouncounda Traore who will be sworn in as interim president with a mission to organise elections.

The five-page agreement did not give a timetable for Sanogo to step down, but said the 15-state ECOWAS regional grouping would immediately prepare the end of tough sanctions including the closure of trade borders to the land-locked country.

Mali's junta leader said on Saturday a power handover agreed with neighbouring countries would take place in days with the appointment of an interim government of national unity.

"We're optimistic of good governance because all the presidents of political parties will be involved. And we, the women that you see here will too, we will all be involved, good governance is paramount," said Fomba Yefing, an economist.

"We can't even call this a military coup, we call this a reshuffle, so today it's a must for the junta to respect the Malian constitution. And the constitution wants that the parliament speaker to take power," Yefing added.

The junta statement announcing the handover of power added that if elections were not possible within the 40 days set out by the constitution due to a rebellion by nomadic Tuaregs who have seized the northern half of the country, a transition structure would need to be created.

Long queues formed around banks and petrol stations in Bamako after the sanctions were introduced five days ago and ordinary Malians are now relieved things will come back to normal.

"Really, this goes straight to my heart because the embargo on a developing country like this, a country where there's no port, no oil, no diamonds, no resources, an embargo is truly catastrophic for the population," said Boubacar Diarra, a local resident.

A five-page accord agreed by Sanogo and the 15-state West African bloc ECOWAS for a return to constitutional order did not specify when the handover would start and sanctions will be lifted.

The agreement calls for ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure, who is still in hiding, to resign. Sanogo's junta must then make way for a unity government with Mali's parliament speaker Diouncounda Traore as interim president.

New elections would then follow as soon as possible given the widespread lack of security in the north, where the Tuaregs swept in, accompanied by groups of Islamists with links to al Qaeda.
Sanogo called on ECOWAS countries to help the Malian army with transport and logistics rather than send ground troops as they are discussing.