The West African regional bloc Ecowas has condemned the decision of the military government in Mali to extend the transition to civilian government by two years while negotiations continue.
Mali’s junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goïta, on Monday signed a decree fixing the length of the transition period to 24 months.
He signed a decree read out on state television saying that “the duration of the transition is fixed at 24 months (from) March 26, 2022”.
But Ecowas has criticized the decision due to ongoing negotiations.
“Ecowas regrets that while negotiations are still ongoing to reach a consensus, the Malian Authorities took this decision on the transition,” it said in a statement.
It added that its mediator will continue talks with Malian authorities “with a view of reaching a mutually acceptable transitional agreement” that will benefit all parties.
The army initially seized power in 2020 and has been under international pressure to hold elections sooner.
Its military rulers had pledged to return power to civilians by February 2022 but subsequently extended the timetable, incurring regional sanctions.
Mali has been under stiff sanctions imposed by Ecowas after the junta failed to conduct elections in February this year in accordance with an agreed deadline.
Over the weekend, an Ecowas meeting decided to keep the measures in place but was due to meet by next month to review the progress.
The bloc had asked Mali to review its two-year transition period, considering 12 or 18 months to be reasonable.