West African Leaders Impose Sanctions on Mali

Posted April 2nd, 2012 at 5:55 pm (UTC-5)
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West African countries have imposed sanctions on Mali, where coup leaders are vowing to restore civilian rule but so far remain in power.

Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, decided Monday to implement the diplomatic and financial sanctions immediately.

The group closed all borders between Mali and member states, and cut off the currency flow to the country, which relies on the region's central bank.

The ECOWAS heads of state met in Senegal's capital, Dakar, after the end of a 72-hour deadline for Mali's military junta chiefs to restore constitutional order.

On Sunday, coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said the constitution and all state institutions had been restored but gave no timetable for elections.

According to a VOA correspondent at Monday's talks, ECOWAS said the junta's statement is a step in the right direction, but that it wants to see concrete action.

The regional group also called on Tuareg rebels in Mali's north to stop their advance. The rebels have seized three key towns since soldiers seized power from President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22.

The ECOWAS leaders also said they are putting a military force on standby. However, it is unclear when any troops would deploy and what their mandate would be.

Also Monday, the United Nations Security Council said it would hold an emergency meeting Tuesday on Mali.

On Sunday, Captain Sanogo pledged coup leaders will work to organize a democratic vote, and will not run in the elections.

“We will leave conditions for a good transition to preserve national unity, we will engage, under the eyes of mediators, in consultations with all the actors of society in the context of a national convention in order to put in place a transitional body with the aim of organizing calm, free, transparent and democratic elections in which we will not participate.”

Mali had been scheduled to hold elections this month before Mr. Toure's overthrow. The president, who completed nearly two terms, was not going to run.

The soldiers who toppled Mr. Toure accused him of failing to provide the army with enough resources to stop the Tuareg rebellion.

Heavily armed Tuareg rebels arrived in northern Mali after the fall of neighboring Libya, and launched an insurgency in mid-January. Tuareg separatists have been seeking autonomy for decades.

Britain and France have advised their nationals to leave the country, while the United States says American should make plans to depart if necessary.