A Malian protest coalition that had campaigned against former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said Wednesday it was willing to work with the junta which ousted him, in a process to restore civilian rule.
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The new military rulers formally received the leaders of the June 5 Movement for the first time since seizing control of the crisis-hit country in a largely bloodless coup on August 18.
“We are willing to work with this process, we came here to exchange views and to reaffirm that we have the same positions” as the military, said Issa Kaou Djim, a leading figure in the protest movement.
“We have been reassured (by the fact) that these troops are soldiers, great intellectuals. Mali, across the entire spectrum, is in a drive to bring everyone together,” he said.
They headed into the capital where they detained the president, along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other leaders.
The putsch—the second in eight years—has once more placed the spotlight on one of Africas most unstable countries, which is battling a jihadist revolt and economic slump.
Coup leaders were cheered by a large rally on Friday organised by the June 5 Movement, although they have been condemned by the countrys neighbours, the United States, African Union, the UN and European Union.
Brussels said Wednesday it was “temporarily” suspending its programme of army and police training in Mali, “due to the circumstances”, according to the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, after a meeting in Berlin of European defense ministers.
According to European officials, the European Training Mission for the Malian Army has trained around 18,000 troops in Mali since its launch in February 2013.
Named after the day and month that it was launched, the June 5 Movement comprises a diverse association of grassroots groups, political parties and religious figures cemented by the demand for Keitas resignation.
Following their roughly hour-long talks with the junta, the protest leaders were keen to present themselves as joint partners in forging a “new Mali”.
“We told the junta that it would be useful to have substantive discussions afterwards. They agree, and they said they will consult the people,” said Modibe Kone.