Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan arrived in Mali Saturday with a convoy of West African leaders to negotiate for reversal of a coup that ousted President Ibrahim Keita.
Jonathan, who is leading the Economic Community of West African States delegation, announced the delegation's arrival in Mali's capital Bamako in a tweet Saturday.
'"We arrived in Bamako this afternoon to continue with (our) mediation and peace talks towards resolving Mali's political crisis and restoring normalcy in this beautiful West African country," Jonathan tweeted.
Keita, 75, resigned late Tuesday after he was arrested along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a military coup at an army outpost on the outskirts of the capital city of Bamako that followed months of protests.
Cisse was among at least a dozen other officials seized Tuesday by the junta, called the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, and taken to an army officer's training facility in Kati town, about 9 miles outside of the capital, Voice of America reported. Since then, Keita has been allowed to meet with his personal doctor, relatives and diplomats. He has been transferred back to the capital where he has been under house arrest. The United Nations condemned Keita's overthrow, along with the African Union, the European Union, the former majority Rally for Mali party, and civil society groups.
On Thursday, Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou called for reversal of the coup after a meeting of regional heads of state.
The delegation's goal is to make the military junta "understand that our sub-region no longer accepts the forceful takeover of power," Issoufou said.
The demonstrators denounced the West African states delegation for condemning the coup and for closing Mali's borders to the regional bloc's 14 other member nations.
The junta's leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, previously participated in U.S. Africa Command training, the Pentagon said, but the Pentagon still condemned the mutiny.
"Colonel Goita and many other Malians have participated in Flintlock training exercises focused on countering violent extremist organizations, the rule of law in armed conflict, professionalism, and the primacy of civilian authority," U.S. Africa Command spokesman Col. Christopher Karns told VOA.
Junta leaders have pledged to hold elections in nine months.
"They are working with the people," opposition leader Yeah Samake said. "The people of Mali are going to remain mobilized and vigilant, making sure that the power belongs to the people -- and that power is for the well-being and welfare of the people of Mali."
About half of Mali's 19 million people live in poverty and the country also faces threats from Islamist jihadists in the country's north.
The coup "won't mean very much in terms of addressing the fundamental problems that Mali faces," said John Campbell, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow and former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria twice, in a blog post.