Coup leader Amadou Haya Sanogo, who took control of Mali [JURIST news archive] last month, on Friday signed an agreement in which he agreed to return constitutional power to the country. The coup, headed by Sanogo took power over the country on March 21 [JURIST report] when a group of soldiers rushed the presidential palace, overthrowing the democratic rule that has been in place for over twenty years. Sanogo agreed to return constitutional rule [AP report] to Mali after he received heavy pressure from the country's surrounding nations. Sanogo noted in the agreement that Article 36 of Mali's constitution permits the head of parliament, Dioncounda Traore, to serve as interim president and coordinate elections for the new president, but he did not specify when the transfer of power will take place as Traore fled Mali when the coup took power. While Article 36 of Mali's constitution allows for a 40 day interim period for presidential elections to take place, the agreement allows for an extension, citing the countries disrepair and rebellion in the north as a hinderance. Sanogo originally announced earlier this week that he would reinstate the country's 1992 constitution and create a transitional government to hold elections [JURIST report], but his signed agreement did not come until Friday.
Mali has experienced military turmoil since Taureg rebels began attacking Malian soldiers [Al Jazeera report] in January. Last week the acting head of the EU delegation in Mali, Bertrand Soret, met with Sanogo and urged a quick return to constitutional order [JURIST report]. Also last week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern over political and social instability [JURIST report] in Mali, and how ongoing fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels will affect Malians forced to flee their homes in search of safety. Last month the UNHCR reported that more than 80,000 people had fled Mali to escape the fighting.