Mali’s military junta on Thursday launched a three-day “national consultation” with political parties, unions and NGOs, facing questions at home and pressure from abroad about its plans to return the country to civilian rule.
Around 500 people attend the forum, which takes place at a conference center in Bamako, the capital.
The talks mark the second round of discussions between the young officers who ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18 and civil representatives, many of whom had campaigned vigorously for him to resign.
The early jubilation among many Malians over Keita’s departure has been replaced by questions and also divisions about the speed of delivery and the role of the military in the transition period.
The coup, Mali’s fourth since gaining independence from France in 1960, came after months of protests, fueled by Keita’s failure to roll back a bloody jihadist insurgency and solve the country’s many economic problems.
Mali’s neighbors have watched with concern, fearing that the country may return to chaos, a scenario that eight years ago helped fuel the jihadist revolt that is now shaking Niger and Burkina Faso.
The board initially spoke of a three-year transition, corresponding to the time remaining in Keita’s second five-year term, which would be overseen by a soldier.
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