, OUAGADOUGOU, Apr 14 – West African mediator President Blaise Compaore began talks on Saturday with Malian politicians and the military junta that briefly seized power last month to resolve the country’s crisis.
Compaore, president of Burkina Faso, said that the talks in Ouagadougou were aimed at finalising an accord reached last week for a return to civilian rule and ways to end a rebellion that has left the north of the country in the hands of Tuareg separatist and Islamist groups.
The mediator for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said the intention was to agree on a roadmap to “ensure the proper functioning of republican institutions, restore territorial integrity and hold free and transparent elections in a peaceful and secure environment.”
Compaore called on Malians to back the transitional government which is being formed “to strengthen the rule of law, respect republican values and maintain the integrity of the country.”
More than 80 people were taking part in the talks with Compaore in a conference hall in the Burkina Faso capital, including senior officials of the junta, parliamentary and regional leaders and religious heads.
Former parliament speaker Dioncounda Traore was sworn in on Thursday as interim president after Amadou Toumani Toure resigned under the April 6 agreement.
The 70-year-old mathematician turned politician is expected to name a prime minister soon, and to organise elections within 40 days.
He has threatened “total war” against the northern rebels, who seized a vast swathe of territory amid the disarray that followed the March 22 coup, which the mutineers justified by accusing Toure’s government of mishandling the Tuareg rebellion.