Mali’s Coup Leader Agrees to Return to Constitutional Order

The international community is concerned about ongoing instability and the sincerity of the accord

The leader of the military coup that seized control of Mali’s government last month signed an accord late Friday agreeing to return the nation to constitutional rule, after intense pressure and the threat of regional war by neighboring countries.

The announcement comes as Tuareg insurgents in the north, supposedly the driving motivation of the coup leaders, declared “the irrevocable independence” or their northern territory from the southern Mali government.

Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo declared the head of the national assembly as interim president and the head of the parliament in charge of forming an interim government, which will organize new elections, as required under Article 36 of Mali’s constitution.

Although Article 36 requires elections in no more than 40 days, Sanogo warned it would take longer. “Because of the exceptional circumstances that the country is going through, because of the institutional crisis and the armed rebellion in the north which have badly affected the functioning of the institutions of the republic and because of the impossibility of organizing elections in 40 days as set out under the constitution,” Sanogo said.

Some Western diplomats have doubts about the sincerity of the accord. “We have to take a wait-and-see approach,” said one official. “I certainly hope it’s true and that the country goes back to civilian rule so that Mali can get back on its feet.”

Foreign powers, including the West and Mali’s West African neighbors, have condemned both the coup that dissolved the civilian government as well as the possible partition of the country. The instability – caused essentially by NATO’s intervention in Libya last year – continues to disrupt the region.

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