Mali’s protest movement on Friday pressed on with a demand for embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to quit, as international mediators tried to defuse the crisis in the insurgency-riven country.
At a press conference in the capital Bamako, the June 5 Movement also insisted that the West African state’s parliament be dissolved, and called for a “republican transition” from the current government.
The move came during soaring political tensions in Mali, which a delegation from the 15-nation West African regional bloc ECOWAS is trying to calm.
The June 5 Movement has triggered a show-down with the government with unflinching demands that Keita resign over his perceived failures in tackling the dire economy and Mali’s eight-year jihadist conflict.
After staging several anti-Keita protests last month, the latest rally, on July 10, turned violent and deepened the political impasse.
Three days of clashes between protesters and security forces ensued, leaving 11 dead and 158 injured, according to an official tally, in the bloodiest bout of political unrest in years.
The June 5 Movement — a disparate alliance of political, social and civil-society leaders — has stuck to its core demand and rejected conciliatory gestures from the president.
ECOWAS mediators met Keita on Friday, according to a statement from the presidency.
They also met influential imam Mahmoud Dicko — who is viewed as the de facto leader of the movement despite not being a formal member.
“We really spoke as brothers and Africans and I hope that, inshallah (God willing), something will come out of this that will give Mali back its greatness,” he said.