BAMAKO, Mali – Malis embattled coup leader said late Friday the National Assembly president will become the next head of state, an announcement made only hours after separatist Tuareg rebels declared their independence and as the nation grappled with harsh financial sanctions from its neighbors.
Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo made the comments to journalists gathered at his office along with officials from neighboring West African nations. The move effectively sets the stage for Sanogo to step aside two weeks after overthrowing the countrys democratically elected leader.
Sanogo said that amnesty was being granted to coup participants, and that constitutional order was being restored in Mali. In the event the president is unable to serve out his term, the position then falls to the head of the National Assembly, he said.
While that person will head a 21-day transitional government, Sanogo acknowledged the process could be lengthened because of the ongoing political crisis in Mali.
Burkina Fasos Minister of Foreign Affairs Djibril Bassole later said that Sanogo had been asked to release the Malian ministers who are still being held by junta forces, and he also has been asked to allow ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure to return home and be given security.
Bassole indicated that Sanogos removal from power would pave the way for harsh financial sanctions to be lifted, though the foreign affairs minister said discussions were still under way about Sanogos role in the transitional government.
The coup launched by mutinous soldiers reversed more than two decades of democracy in the deeply impoverished nation.