Reuters Africa

By John Irish and Bate Felix

PARIS/BAMAKO (Reuters) – Mali’s military rulers on Wednesday postponed a national convention to end a crisis sparked by a coup, which has led to international isolation and allowed rebels to seize control of the northern half of the country.

Colonel Moussa Coulibaly, an adviser to the head of the junta, said the talks, which political parties and civil society groups had earlier said they would boycott, were postponed to provide more time for preparations.

“Given material difficulties and the short time we had to prepare for it, we have decided today … to postpone the convention to a later date in order to better organise,” Coulibaly said, adding that a new date will be announced later.

France and the United Nations warned that the seizure of northern Mali by rebels was playing into the hands of local al Qaeda units, with Paris urging Algeria and other neighbours to do more to tackle the threat.

Mali, long one of the most stable democracies in West Africa, was plunged into turmoil by a March 22 coup, led by low- and mid-ranking officers frustrated with President Amadou Toumani Toure’s handling of a Tuareg-led rebellion in the north.

Junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo has shrugged off trade, diplomatic and financial sanctions imposed by Mali’s neighbours and proposed a convention to map out a return to civilian rule.  Read more…