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ECOWAS confident of Mali's return to civilian rule before 18 month deadline

Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan (C), wearing a face mask, prepares for a meeting between Malian military leaders and an ECOWAS delegation on August 22, 2020   -  
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File- ANNIE RISEMBERG/AFP or licensors

Mali

The mediator for the Economic Community of West African States said he's confident Mali's post-coup interim administration will hand back power to civilians within the 18-month deadline.

Nigeria's former president Goodluck Jonathan, arrived in Bamako on Monday for two days of meetings with political and civil-society figures.

The visit comes amid increasing questions over the post-coup government's ability to reform the constitution and stage elections within roughly a year.

"We believe that the transitional government will be able to conclude everything that it is set up to do within the 18 months," he said.

"He did mention that they are committed to conduct(ing) an election before the end of the 18 months."

Army officers ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18, after weeks of protests fuelled by frustrations over his failure to tackle the eight-year conflict, as well as perceived corruption.

ECOWAS then placed sanctions on Mali, which were lifted in October after the military junta handed power to the caretaker civilian government, which is meant to rule for 18 months before staging democratic elections.

But figures with army links still have influence over the coalition.

Coup leader Assimi Goita was appointed interim vice president, for example. And the interim president, Bah Ndaw -- a civilian -- was an army officer before retiring from the military.

Ndaw nonetheless pledged on December 31 to return Mali to civilian rule on schedule.

Jonathan is expected to meet both Ndaw and Goita during his visit, according to a programme published by ECOWAS.

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