Algeria warns neighbouring Mali against 'long transition'
Algeria warned neighbouring Mali's military rulers on Tuesday against a "long transition" to civilian government, calling for "calm" dialogue after West African leaders imposed tough sanctions against Bamako.
Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had on Sunday agreed to a string of punitive measures including border closures and a trade embargo over election delays.
The government of Malian Colonel Assimi Goita, who came to power in an August 2020 coup followed by a second putsch, last month proposed a five-year transition period arguing that chronic insecurity made safely holding elections impossible.
In a statement Tuesday, Algeria's presidency warned of the "potential political, security and economic consequences of a transition as long as that proposed" by Mali's rulers, urging them to be "responsible and constructive".
It called for a "calm and realistic dialogue with ECOWAS to reach a plan to end the crisis, taking into account international demands and the legitimate demands of the Malian people".
The statement added that Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had told visiting Malian officials - including Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop - that a transition of a year to 16 months was "reasonable and justified".
Algeria's foreign ministry also urged "all parties to exercise restraint and re-engage in dialogue, so the region can avoid tensions spiralling and an exacerbation of the crisis."
Algeria shares a 1,400-kilometre (870-mile) desert border with Mali's lawless north, and was a key player in a 2015 peace deal following an insurgency there which had destabilised the troubled Sahel region.
Following his initial power grab, Goita had promised to hold elections and to restore civilian rule.
But he staged a de facto second coup in May 2021, forcing out an interim civilian government and declaring himself president.
He has faced mounting international pressure, including from France and the US, to stick to the timetable.
Mali, a vast nation of 19 million people, is gripped by a long-running jihadist insurgency and chronic lawlessness, with swathes of territory outside government control.