BAMAKO (AFP) – The captain who led a coup in Mali last month before handing power back to a civilian president rejected Saturday the decision by West African states to send troops.
“All the decisions announced in Abidjan were reached without consulting us,” Amadou Haya Sanogo told reporters. “I do not agree with the deployment of soldiers from the Economic Community of West Africa States”, or ECOWAS.
“No foreign soldier will step on Malian soil without being invited by the Malian government,” he added.
Sanogo also rejected an ECOWAS decision to set a 12-month transition until presidential and legislative elections, and said he should be judged on his work after interim President Dioncounada Traore’s mandate runs out.
“ECOWAS took its decisions unilaterally, which means they do not bind us,” said Sanogo. “The interim president will serve 40 days, after that I’ll assume responsibility.”
Leaders from the 15-state regional bloc, gathered for an extraordinary summit on the crises in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, decided Thursday to deploy a stabilisation force to both countries.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, current head of ECOWAS, pledged a firm response to the instability “to prevent our sub-region from giving into terrorism and transnational criminality”.
Sanogo led a group of renegade soldiers who toppled Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22, shattering the landlocked country’s image as a democratic success story in the region.
Under diplomatic pressure from Mali’s partners and military pressure from an advancing rebellion in northern Mali, he agreed to hand power over to Traore, the former speaker, who was sworn in as president on April 12.
ECOWAS on Thursday urged the military to return to the barracks, amid allegations that the former junta still interferes with the country’s political life and that the return to constitutional rule is not complete.
Political leaders and diplomats in Mali also suspect the coup leaders may be reluctant to return to the barracks, and former colonial master France on Friday called on them to abide by signed agreements and give up control of public ORTM radio and television.