The first day of consultations over Mali’s political future kicked off with police firing tear gas to disperse supporters of an alliance of political parties, a sign of a deepening rift over who should lead the post-coup transitional government.
About 100 supporters of the M5-RFP coalition, which led months of mass demonstrations against deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, clashed with police at the entrance to the conference centre, delaying the start of the talks.
The junta that toppled Keita on Aug. 18 wants the transitional government to be lead by the military, while the M5-RFP and regional leaders have called for a civilian to take the role.
“They are trying to confiscate our revolution from us, we were very clear from the start. We want a civilian as president of the transition, not a soldier,” said Bakary Keita, a senior member of M5-RFP.
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