ECOWAS Delegation Turned Back from Mali

Posted March 29th, 2012 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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A delegation of West African presidents has abandoned plans to meet with Mali's junta leaders following reports of pro-coup protests at the airport and in the capital.

The delegation from the regional bloc ECOWAS, which included the leaders of Ivory Coast, Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso, was scheduled to meet Thursday in Mali's capital, Bamako, to press for a deal restoring constitutional rule.

An advisor to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said the president's airplane entered Malian airspace, but turned around in midair because demonstrators were on the runway.

Diplomatic sources say the other presidents scrapped their plans to attend the talks. The regional group is expected to have an emergency meeting in Abidjan.

Earlier this week, the regional bloc suspended Mali and threatened sanctions on the new junta and possible military action if necessary.

Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré was deposed last week in a coup by soldiers angry at his handling of an ethnic Tuareg rebellion in the north.

Mr. Touré told French media on Wednesday that he is not in detention and remains in the country.