EU praises new Mali PM but warns military against meddling
(BRUSSELS) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday welcomed the naming of Mali's new premier Diango Cissoko as a man of consensus, while warning the Malian military against further meddling.
"We had contacts with him in the past as mediator for the republic and were able to appreciate his consensual personality, negotiating skills," Ashton said in a statement.
But "we now await the swift nomination of an inclusive government," she added.
She also regretted the conditions of his appointment -- the ouster of his predecessor Cheick Modibo Diarra -- and "urges the military to stop interfering in political life and to back the transition process towards a return to constitutional order."
She recalled that European Union leaders had agreed at an October summit on the principle of imposing "targeted sanctions against those impeding the return of constitutional order."
Ashton also called on the Malian authorities to quickly agree a roadmap to elections, the reform of the army and the return of civilian control over security forces.
The EU has agreed to send a military training mission of around 250 troops to Mali to help the authorities regain control of its vast desert north from Islamist rebels.
Under the plan, the officers would be sent to train four battalions, or a total of 2,600 troops, near Segou, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of Bamako.