SENEGAL President Macky Sall said he is still hopeful that a compromise can be reached with Mali’s ruling military junta on the timeline for restoring democratic rule.
Mali’s military leaders, who overthrew the government in 2020, have been negotiating with West Africa’s regional bloc on how long they can hold power. They announced this week they had decided on 24 months starting from March 2022.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it regretted Mali’s decision to publish a timeline during negotiations.
ECOWAS has imposed crippling sanctions on Mali since early this year, and an agreement on the transition would pave the way for them to be lifted.
“Obviously it was clumsy of them to publish (the timeline), but it was the product of an agreement with the mediator,” said Sall in an interview with French broadcasters RFI and France 24.
“We will see between now and July if the conditions are met for ECOWAS to lift the sanctions,” he said, explaining that the regional heads of state had requested more details about the proposal.
The next ECOWAS summit is scheduled for July 3.
Sall, who is also chairman of the African Union, met last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to free up exports of Russian and Ukrainian grains and fertiliser which have been blocked because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, causing a food crisis in Africa.
Sall said on Thursday he had no reason to doubt Putin, who had told him Russia was ready to allow exports of grain from Ukraine if the coast was demined. Russia has previously said it is ready to allow vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine in return for the lifting of some Western sanctions, a proposal that Ukraine has described as “blackmail”.