Some agreement, but issues remain as West African mediators meet Mali coup leaders
By Tiemoko Diallo
BAMAKO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Mediators from West Africa's regional bloc reached agreement on certain points in talks with Mali's military junta that are aimed at returning the country to civilian rule, the parties said on Sunday, adding that some outstanding issues remained.
The negotiations will continue on Monday, members of both delegations told journalists in Bamako.
Leaders of the military junta led by Colonel Assimi Goita and mediators from West Africa's regional bloc led by Nigeria's former president, Goodluck Jonathan, met behind closed doors all day on Sunday.
"We have been able to agree on a number of points but not yet on all the discussions," Jonathan told reporters on Sunday night after negotiations that lasted around nine hours.
A spokesman for the military junta, Colonel Ismael Wague, said: "We reached compromise on certain aspects and the negotiations will continue tomorrow."
Neither gave details on what issues they had reached agreement on, and what were the outstanding issues.
A senior officer close to the junta told Reuters earlier on Sunday that discussion during the morning session had focused on the bloc's sanctions on Mali following the military coup.
Other key issues would include the fate of deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and details of Mali's transition to civilian rule.
French Radio RFI reported late on Sunday that the junta, known as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), proposed a three-year transition led by a soldier and made up of mostly soldiers.
The report added that the junta was also ready to allow Keita to return to his home or leave the country.
A spokesman for the CNSP could not be reached for comments.
The overthrow of Keita on Tuesday has been condemned abroad, but celebrated by many in a country battling an Islamist insurgency and months of political unrest following a disputed legislative election in March.
While the delegation arrived in Bamako on Saturday with the aim of reversing the coup, a diplomat told Reuters that reinstating Keita - who is being held by the junta - was out of the question, adding that the only thing it could achieve was a transition.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), weary of prolonged instability in Mali and the potential for similar power grabs in the region, have taken a hard line on the coup.
It suspended Mali from its decision-making institutions, shut borders and halted financial flows with the country.
(Additional reporting by Paul Lorgerie, Fadima Kontao and Idrissa Sangare in Bamako; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Peter Cooney)
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