West African leaders gave a junta a one week ultimatum to appoint a civilian to leader for Mali, a spokesman for the military group leading the country said Wednesday.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, new chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), attends a consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana September 15, 2020.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, new chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), attends a consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana September 15, 2020. (Reuters)

West African leaders have given Mali's junta a one week ultimatum to appoint a civilian to leader for the country.

Otherwise, a total embargo to "asphyxiate them quickly" will be imposed beginning at midnight September 23, according to Colonel Major Ismael Wague, who was quoted by local media as saying on Wednesday.

During a meeting on Tuesday with the junta in Ghana, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded the appointment of a civilian president without delay or negotiations in Mali, given the terrorist threat and an embargo imposed on the country by neighboring states.

READ MORE: West African bloc hopeful of seeing civilian leadership in Mali within days

The demand was not approved by the CNSP, with the junta saying the demand was impossible because the purpose of its presence in Accra was to present to West African leaders the conclusion of national consultations and to consider lifting sanctions on Mali, not to sign an agreement

"We have made it clear to ECOWAS that we are at the people’s service. Since the majority spoke of a military transition, we suggested that we could move in that direction. ECOWAS refused," said Wague.

"We said we understood, but that whatever they ask us to do, we can't decide on the spot," said the military spokesman who is part of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), set up to run Mali after a military coup August 18 forced President Ibrahim Boucar Keita to resign.

Wague said it is all about being on the side of the majority of Malians.

"But this possibility will depend on other factors that we understand and have integrated," he said.

A transition implementation office was set up Wednesday to quickly design transition bodies in Mali.

"We have already begun work on the development of a college to quickly put in place a transition,” said Wague. “No matter what people say, the state is functioning through General Secretaries of the ministries."

ECOWAS also demanded the dissolution of the CNSP once the civil transition begins.

It said the 18 months of transition stipulated in the charter began September 15.

Source: AA