Mali's military junta has abandoned a contentious measure that would have enabled its leader to potentially replace the interim civilian leader of the Sahel state, according to an official document released Thursday.
Under an early roadmap for restoring civilian rule after the August 18 coup, seen by AFP, junta head Colonel Assimi Goita was empowered to replace the president of the interim government if the latter were incapacitated.
Goita is vice president of an interim government that is due to govern Mali for 18 months before staging elections; former colonel Bah Ndaw is its president.
But the possibility of Goita replacing Ndaw sparked friction among the country's neighbours, who said it was unacceptable.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heaped pressure on Mali to swiftly restore civilian rule after army officers toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, imposing sanctions against the country and shutting its borders.
Its representative in the country, Hamidou Boly, told a UN-run radio station that "major actions... in the hours and days to come" could lead to the sanctions quickly being removed.
Current ECOWAS trade restrictions include a ban on commercial trade and financial flows, but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.
Junta leaders fear the sanctions could further cripple Mali's economy, already struggling through a security and political crisis.
ECOWAS had also urged Mali to publish the roadmap -- or 'transition charter' -- that sets out the interim government's powers.
On Thursday, a final version of the roadmap was published in Mali's official journal, with no mention of the interim vice president replacing the president.
"The vice president is in charge of defence and security," the document said.
It sets the transition period's top goals as reestablishing security throughout Mali -- where around two-thirds of the country is currently beyond control from capital Bamako -- as well as "setting the state in order" and organising a general election.
Neither the president nor the vice-president will be allowed to stand for reelection or as a parliamentary candidate at the end of the transition.
The document calls for the creation of a 121-strong legislative body as well as offering "immunity" to soldiers who participated in the coup.
Many Malians welcomed the military deposing Keita and have little complaint that so many officers -- from former colonel Ndaw in the presidency on down -- fill key roles in the transition regime.
Thursday's publication does not satisfy all of ECOWAS' conditions for lifting sanctions, which also include the release of officials arrested during the coup.