US suspends cooperation with Mali army after Keita's ouster
US envoy to West Africa's Sahel region says decision on whether to formally designate removal of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita a coup had to go through a legal review.The military junta is seeking a transitional president to return the country to civilian rule. (AFP)
The US has suspended all cooperation with Mali's military until the political situation is clarified following the overthrow of the president by army officers.
US envoy to West Africa's Sahel region J Peter Pham reiterated US condemnations of the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in comments to reporters but said a decision on whether to formally designate the actions a coup had to go through a legal review.
READ MORE: Mali coup leaders face severe international condemnation
Transition to civil rule
The military junta ruling Mali following this week's coup is seeking a transitional president to return the country civilian rule, the group's spokesman said.
Ismael Wague told The Associated Press that the newly formed National Committee for the Salvation of the People will meet with political parties and civil society groups to determine the duration and composition of the transition.
His words come as West African leaders are escalating pressure on the junta and urging them to restore President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to power.
Wague, however, denied that the junta had carried out a coup d’etat, saying that Mali still has constitutional order and the 75-year-old Keita was only being held at army barracks for his own protection.
He denied that the president had been ousted.
"The president of the republic resigned on his own after making an analysis of the country’s situation," Wague said.
"For us, this is a civil transition, not a military one, and the president of the transition must reach a consensus among the forces of the nation," he said.
Mali's opposition coalition, the M5-RFP, has not yet said if it will be part of the transition, though experts say it is likely.
READ MORE: Mali mutineers pledge elections after unseating Keita in coup
Mali had a similar coup in 2012 which created a power vacuum that allowed militia to seize control of key northern cities until a French-led military operation pushed the rebels out of the urban centres the following year.
Observers fear Mali's current political upheaval will give militants another chance to expand their reach.