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Jonathan leads 14 African leaders to Mali

Former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, will be leading 14 other West African leaders to coup-ravaged Mali to hold talks with the opposition leaders who ousted President Ibrahim Keita and took him into custody.

According to Agence France-Presse on Friday, Jonathan, who is ECOWAS Special Envoy to Mali, and the other leaders would be in the Malian capital of Bamako on Saturday (today) for peace talks with the junta leaders including Assimi Goita who has declared himself head of the junta.

The embattled leader, Keita, was overthrown on Tuesday by rebel troops, who arrested him, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other senior officials, and locked them up.

Jonathan had on Tuesday briefed Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), saying Mali’s main opposition group, M5, was adamant on its call that Keita should resign.

Keita, who later appeared in a state television broadcast on Wednesday, declared the dissolution of the government and National Assembly, saying he had no choice but to resign with immediate effect.

“If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice? (I must) submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed,” the 75-year-old said.

The United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States, amongst others, had since condemned the coup.

According to AFP, reacting to the request for a meeting with the leaders, a junta official said, “We will receive the ECOWAS delegation with pleasure. It is important to talk to our brothers.”

Meanwhile, the United States on Friday suspended military aid to Mali after a group of rebel military officers seized power and placed the West African country’s president under arrest.

There will be “no further training or support of the Mali armed forces — we have halted everything until we can clarify the situation,” the US special envoy for the Sahel, Peter Pham, told reporters.

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