ECOWAS Meets on Mali Political Crisis

Posted March 27th, 2012 at 8:20 am (UTC-5)
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West African leaders are holding an emergency meeting in Ivory Coast to discuss Mali's political crisis following last week's military coup there.

Officials with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are in Abidjan to consider whether to suspend Mali from the 15-member regional bloc.

ECOWAS Vice President Toga Gayewea McIntosh tells VOA his group is concerned with preserving peace, stability and democracy in the country following the coup.

“The preoccupation of this meeting is basically to see how we can engage the players on the ground and see if we can get back on track for the democratic process to take its course.”

ECOWAS has already joined other regional and international bodies in condemning the coup, warning it will not tolerate any “military adventurism” from the mutinous soldiers who seized power Thursday from President Amadou Toumani Touré.

On Monday, the United States said it would suspend some aid to Mali's government in protest. The State Department says up to $70 million in non-humanitarian assistance could be affected.

The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, William Fitzgerald, told VOA that the situation in Mali is very serious.

“They must go back to the constitutionality. It is unacceptable to have a coup in Mali, especially after so many democratic successes in the country.”

Earlier Monday, the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the “forcible seizure of power” from Mali's democratically elected government.

In a written statement, the world body called on “mutinous troops” to cease all violence and return to their barracks. The Security Council demanded that constitutional order be restored and elections be held in late April as previously planned.

The African Union has already suspended Mali's membership, and the United States and European Union continue to recognize President Touré as the country's leader. Mr. Touré was due to step down at the end of his second term weeks from now.

The renegade troops say they took power in order to launch a more effective response to an ethnic Tuareg rebellion in the north.