April 1, 2012 / 11:49 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Mali junta pledges transition to civilian rule

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BAMAKO, April 1 (Reuters) - Mali’s coup leader pledged to re-establish from Sunday the West African country’s constitution and its state institutions before organising a transfer of power back to civilians.

West African neighbours have given the junta, formed after the March 22 coup, to start handing over power by midnight on Sunday or face sanctions including a crippling closure of borders around the land-locked, export-dependent country.

“We are making the solemn commitment to re-establish, from today, the Malian constitution of Feb. 25, 1992 and the institutions of the republic,” junta leader Amadou Sanogo said in a statement read out to journalists at military barracks just outside the capital Bamako.

Sanogo said the junta had agreed to consult with local political forces to set up a transition body “with the aim of organising peaceful, free, open and democratic elections in which we will not take part”.

The main goal of the putsch by disgruntled soldiers was to step up the offensive against the northern rebels. But the coup has spectacularly backfired, emboldening the alliance of Tuareg nomads and Islamists to seize new ground. (reporting by Bate Felix; writing by Mark John)

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