Mali coup leader Captain Amadou Sanago has rejected a decision by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to send troops to the country.
The West African bloc made the decision in Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan, on Thursday at an emergency summit dealing with the situation in Mali and nearby Guinea-Bissau.
On Saturday, Captain Sanogo said the decision to send at least 3,000 soldiers to Mali had been made without consultation with the military. “All the decisions announced in Abidjan were reached without consulting us.”
“I do not agree with the deployment of soldiers from the Economic Community of West Africa States,” he added. “No foreign soldier will step on Malian soil without being invited by the Malian government.”
The junta is also irked by the ECOWAS decision to extend the interim president’s term beyond 40 days to one year.
The coup leader agreed to hand over power to a civilian government for 40 days and then allow the country to hold elections by the end of May. But the ECOWAS says the interim government should have up to 12 months to hold the elections.
“The heads of state and government decided that the transition period should last 12 months, followed by presidential and legislative elections to assist Mali in the reestablishment of its unity and of its territorial integrity,” the 15-nation group announced in a statement issued late on Thursday.
Meanwhile, soldiers disrupted a meeting between Mali’s junta and West African mediators on Saturday and threatened to force the officials to leave. Some soldiers said they were opposed to the mediators even if Captain Amadou came to reach an agreement with them.
On March 22, mutinous Malian soldiers led by Captain Sanogo toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure and took control of government institutions.
The military said it had overthrown Toure because his government had not done enough in the military campaign against separatist rebels in the north.
But, in the wake of the coup, the rebels took control of the entire northern desert region.