West African Leaders Discuss Mali, Guinea-Bissau

Posted May 3rd, 2012 at 11:45 am (UTC-5)
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West African leaders are in closed-door session to discuss the political crises in Guinea-Bissau and Mali.

Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gathered in Dakar Thursday for an extraordinary summit to talk about their next steps.

Military juntas in both countries have refused to comply with demands from ECOWAS for a return to constitutional order.

The regional bloc imposed sanctions on Guinea-Bissau earlier this week, after the junta there refused to allow ousted interim president Raimundo Pereira to resume power and manage the return to civilian rule.

ECOWAS Communication Director Sonny Ugoh told VOA that leaders hope the sanctions show the military leaders it is in their best interest to accept a 12-month transition plan.

“And then hopefully complement that with the security sector reform, bringing the country into a new era of stability and peace and security so that all of us can get on with the business of developing the region. Because it's becoming a little bit frustrating, this recurring problem of political crisis in Guinea-Bissau.”

Guinea-Bissau has endured numerous coups and coup attempts during the past 30 years and has become a transit point for international drug traffickers.

Soldiers in Mali seized power in March, accusing ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure of failing to properly equip the army to fight a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

At least 22 people were killed in clashes that began late Monday, when soldiers loyal to Mr. Toure attempted to take control of strategic sites around the capital, Bamako.