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Mali Returns To Civil Rule As Interim President Takes Over From Junta

Mali has returned to civil rule three weeks after a military coup, as Parliament Speaker Dioncounda Traore was sworn in as the West African country's interim President on Thursday.

Supreme Court President Nouhoum Tapily administered the oath of office at a brief ceremony held in the capital Bamako, reports said.

Ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure emerged from hiding last weekend to tender his resignation as part of a power transition agreement between the country's coup leaders and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In an accord it signed on Friday with ECOWAS, the junta agreed to return power to the civilian government in exchange for lifting sanctions against it.

The regional bloc lifted sanctions it imposed on Mali after the coup and an amnesty has been agreed for the coup leaders, who can step aside without fear of prosecution.

ECOWAS had imposed diplomatic as well as trade and financial sanctions on the country after the new military rulers ignored an April-2 deadline to return power to its democratically-elected government. Subsequently, the African Union (AU) also imposed similar sanctions on Mali. The U.S. State Department imposed travel ban on the country's coup supporters.

Under the Framework Agreement, a transitional administration headed by Dioncounda Traore will run the country until presidential elections are held.

Traore, who has been in neighboring Burkina Faso since the coup, has 40 days to conduct the election, but this deadline is unlikely to be met, with much of the vast northern region remaining in the hands of separatist rebels.

Rebel military officials, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, took control of the country on March 21, and announced the dissolution of the government led by Toure. The coup was triggered by dissatisfaction among a large section of the military over the government's failure to address their demands for better supplies and arms to tackle the Tuareg uprising.

Since the coup, Tuareg rebels had captured large areas of the Sahara region in the country's north, and declared independence for a region they call 'Azawad.'

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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