West African Leaders to Meet on Mali, Impose Sanctions

Posted April 2nd, 2012 at 3:15 am (UTC-5)
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West African leaders plan to hold an emergency meeting Monday on the political situation in Mali, where the head of a military coup has vowed to restore civilian rule.

Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, are scheduled to meet in Senegal after the bloc dismissed the coup leader's announcement Sunday restoring the country's constitution.

Remi Ajibewa, head of political affairs and international cooperation for ECOWAS, told VOA the pledge was a “deliberate and calculated attempt.”

“It is only when it's seen and done that we can actually know they have taken the right steps. The other things [are] just propaganda.”

He also said ECOWAS will impose diplomatic and financial sanctions Monday, including suspending Mali from the group, freezing the assets of coup leaders and closing the borders between Mali and member states.

Military coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo pledged Sunday to give up most powers to an elected civilian government, but gave no timetable for elections. He said coup leaders will work to organize a democratic vote, but 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.”

The coup leaders and Tuareg rebels fighting for an independent homeland in northern Mali are vying for power in the country.

The rebels have taken control major northern towns, including the city of Timbuktu – the last major city that was in the army's hands.

Renegade soldiers seized power from democratically elected President Amadou Toure on March 22. They accused him of failing to provide the army with enough resources to stop the Tuareg rebellion.

Mr. Toure is in hiding.

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.