Friday, March 30, 2012

ECOWAS gives Mali leaders ultimatum to relinquish power

West African nations have given the leaders of a coup in Mali 72 hours to relinquish power or face sanctions. ECOWAS said the proposed measures included closing all land borders and freezing Mali's assets.
The leaders met in Ivory Coast, after earlier plans for talks with the coup leaders in the Malian capital, Bamako, were abandoned as coup supporters occupied the airport's runway. Mali's neighbours have already told the junta to step aside. They have placed a peacekeeping force on standby.

The president of the commission of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, told reporters that if the deadline was not met, all the 15 countries of the bloc would deny Mali access to their ports, and there would be no transfers to commercial banks in Mali from the regional central bank.

The coup leaders have unveiled a new constitution as well as announcing elections in which those who took part in the coup would be barred from standing. However, no date has yet been set.
The coup was led by soldiers unhappy with the way President Amadou Toumani Toure's government had been handling a Tuareg insurgency in the north.

The Tuareg rebels have forced the army out of several northern towns in recent months. Under the new constitution, a transitional committee composed of 26 members of the security forces and 15 civilians would take power. Those who serve on the committee will be given immunity from prosecution.
Some of the document is similar to Mali's current constitution, including guarantees of freedom of speech, thought and movement.

Mr Toure - widely known as ATT - said on Wednesday that he remained in the country, free and in good health. "I think the most important thing today is that we should, through consensus, find a way out of this crisis. The most important thing is not ATT, not the man. What is important is democracy, our institutions, Mali," he told French radio network RF1.

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