Intense negotiations at two Bamako institutions have yielded a settlement in recent days to Mali’s political crisis. But do Malians believe their incoming interim president, Dioncounda Traore, can put their country back on track? A line of black Mercedes cars snakes outside a luxury hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako while inside the air-conditioned lobby clutches of military-men in camouflage uniforms huddle in discreet corners, holding hushed conversations with ascending ranks of African diplomats. Discussions done, the dignitaries and military deputies march tight-lipped to their waiting cars before they’re off in a convoy of screeching sirens, to a military base on the outskirts of Bamako. The political action in this West African capital is moving at a rapid clip these days, after diplomats from the regional West African ECOWAS bloc negotiated a power handover deal with Mali’s military coup leaders last week.
The ousted president, Amadou Toumani Toure, has resigned, the incoming interim president is back from a brief exile, the coup leader has stepped aside, and everybody who’s anybody is jostling to get a slice of the new political pie. It’s all happening between Bamako’s Azalai Hotel Salam — a dun-coloured structure in the heart of this dusty city — and the military junta’s headquarters at Kati outside town.
All eyes are now trained on Dioncounda Traore, the country’s National Assembly chief, who will serve as transitional president of a unity government until elections are held under Article 36 of the country’s constitution. The 70-year-old veteran Malian politician arrived in Bamako on Saturday from neighbouring Burkina Faso, where he happened to be on the night of March 21, when disgruntled soldiers ousted Mali’s democratically-elected president, Amadou Toumani Toure.