The ousted Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, says he is no longer interested in returning to his former office.
This was according to Nigeria’s former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, who visited the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday.
Dr Jonathan, who is ECOWAS Special Envoy to Mali, was at the Villa to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the crisis in the West African country.
The meeting comes ahead of an extraordinary virtual summit by ECOWAS Heads of State and Leaders scheduled to take place on Friday.
Briefing the President on his recent visit to Mali, Dr Jonathan disclosed that his team was allowed to meet with the ousted President who confirmed that he resigned from office voluntarily.
The former president also brought President Buhari up to speed on dialogue with the military coup leaders seeking to stay in power for three years, before holding elections in the country.
“They call themselves National Committee for the Salvation of the People,” Dr Jonathan was quoted as saying in a statement by President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
He added, “We asked them to allow ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to return to his personal residence where he would be given tight security, but they said he could travel abroad and not return to answer questions they may have for him.
“We also told them that what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an interim government headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months and a maximum of 12 calendar months.
“The Interim Government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order.”
According to the former president, the military leaders in Mali want ECOWAS to lift sanctions put in place as it is already affecting the country.
In response, he said, “But we told them that the authority to do such was only in the hands of ECOWAS Heads of State.”
President Buhari, in his remarks, stressed that the priority in Mali now should be securing the country which he said was largely occupied by terrorists.
“About two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists, and it makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests,” he stated.
The President was, however, hopeful that the sub-region would take a common position on the issue when the leaders meet on Friday.
He also believes the ECOWAS leaders will arrive at an amicable and generally acceptable position to all interested parties.
Recently, a series of protests erupted in the streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital despite rainfall and pleas from mediators to stay home, demanding the resignation of ousted President Keita.
The Malian leader was later overthrown by mutinying troops on August 18, amid the lingering unrest in the country.
He was arrested and taken into custody along with the country’s Prime Minister, Boubou Cisse, as well as other senior government officials.
The coup has sent shockwaves around the West African sub-region, sparking fears that one of its most volatile states could collapse.
A day after he was forced out of office, President Keita bowed to pressure and announced that he had stepped down to avoid “bloodshed”.