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African Union urges Mali junta to restore civilian rule

[MALIAN AIR FORCE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF AND MILITARY JUNTA SPOKESPERSON ISMAEL WAGUE   -  
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ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

Mali

The African Union urged Mali's military junta to quickly appoint civilian leaders to manage an 18-month transition towards elections following last month's coup.

Smail Chergui, the AU's peace and security commissioner, said on Twitter Thursday night that he was calling "for a return to constitutional order and early civilian-led transition in Mali" and called for the toppled President Keita's release.

A separate Twitter post from the official AU Peace and Security Department account said it backed ECOWAS' call for an 18-month civilian transition.

The AU announced the day after the August 18 putsch that it was suspending Mali until constitutional order was restored.

The junta met with West African leaders in Ghana this week.

Though ECOWAS and the junta did not resolve a key issue of whether soldiers of civilians will lead the transition.

The Ecowas bloc said it would lift sanctions if it installed a civilian-led government in days.

Colonel Ismael Wague said after the talks ECOWAS could implement a total embargo if it fails to do so.

That would hit the country with an already bruised economy even harder.

But Wague made clear the junta would prefer the transition be run by the military.

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