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Mali Transition Delay is Unacceptable

People in the Malian capital, Bamako, marched to protest the takeover of the north by Tuareg rebels and Islamic militants.

Civilian rule is vital to winning the respect and support of the Malian people.

The military officers who seized power in Mali in March are coming under increasing pressure to return the West African nation to civilian rule, but they continue to delay a promised political transition. The United States is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation there and we call on the junta leaders to honor their responsibility to step aside and return the country to civilian rule.

Following unsuccessful transition talks, representatives of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States said the group was considering imposing new sanctions on the coup leaders and their allies. Sanctions were imposed immediately following the March 22 military takeover, but were suspended when the National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State, or CNRDRE in its French acronym, entered into good-faith negotiations with ECOWAS mediators. But the CNRDRE has maintained a grip on day-to-day power in Mali and the while the 40-day mandate of the transitional government implemented under the country’s constitution has been extended, the junta appears to remain firmly in control.

The United States shares ECOWAS’s concern over the apparent breakdown in the transition agreement. The longer the situation over Mali’s government remains confused, the longer insurgent groups that have seized key areas of the country’s north have to wreak havoc in the region. Civilian rule is vital to winning the respect and support of the Malian people, a government that will conduct the needed dialogue with the military about state security and territorial integrity, and thus be able to get back to the important business of fighting the extremism and terrorism in the north threatening not only Malians, but the peoples of much of West Africa.

The United States is committed to working with ECOWAS to support the interim government led by President Toure and Prime Minister Diarra to work toward holding democratic elections at the first available opportunity so that the people of Mali have the future that they deserve.