Junta, Malian opposition close ranks against regional sanctions threat

Mali’s opposition coalition on Thursday dismissed efforts by regional powers to block a coup-driven change of government, saying it would work with the junta that ousted the president to restore stability to the country.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is convening over the crisis, suspended Mali, shut borders, and halted financial flows in response to Tuesday’s overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The M5-RFP coalition of anti-Keita opposition groups said it was working alongside the mutineers, and labelled the ECOWAS sanctions an over-reaction stemming from some regional leaders’ fears that the coup could set off political unrest in their countries.

“(The leaders) are on an all-out drive to set ECOWAS against Mali,” said M5-RFP spokesman Nouhoum Togo.

“…M5-RFP and CNSP are currently working. At 10 am they should present the conclusions, which will be brought to the attention of the press this afternoon.”

Togo said banks would open as normal on Thursday.

The capital Bamako was calm for the second straight day, a Reuters reporter said, as people appeared to heed earlier calls from junta spokesman Colonel Ismael Wague to return to work and go about their daily lives.

The coup, which has rocked a country already in the grip of a jihadist insurgency and civil unrest, has been met with almost universal condemnation abroad.

It has fuelled concerns it could disrupt a military campaign against jihadists linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State operating in northern and central Mali and West Africa’s wider Sahel region.

Heads of state from all 15 members of ECOWAS are due to discuss the fallout from the coup in a virtual session on Thursday.

In July, a delegation from the bloc failed to broker an agreement between Keita and the opposition, who had led large-scale protests against the government in recent months.

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