Africa leaders scrap Mali visit mid-flight

2012-03-29 14:40

Bamako/Abidjan – West African presidents scheduled to meet Mali’s junta leaders were forced to turn around mid-flight after reports of pro-junta protests at the airport and in the capital.

An official at Ivory Coast’s presidency confirmed the airplane carrying President Alassane Ouattara, one of a delegation of six heads of state from regional bloc ECOWAS meant to arrive in Mali, had returned to the capital Abidjan.

Two diplomatic sources said the other heads of state had also scrapped the planned meeting, designed to pressure the leaders of last week’s coup that toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure to swiftly restore constitutional order.

“Everyone is heading home,” one of the diplomats said, asking not to be named. There was no word on whether the visit would be rescheduled.

A Reuters reporter at Mali’s Bamako airport said most of the red carpets laid out for the arrival of the visiting delegation had been rolled up, though security remained tight and an honour guard was deployed.

The overnight coup, seen as a setback to fragile democratic gains in Africa, was triggered by army anger at Toure’s handling of a Tuareg rebellion in north Mali that in recent weeks has gained ground and inflicted losses on the army.

Regional neighbours said they were prepared to use sanctions and possible military force to dislodge Mali’s new army leaders.

Reuters reporters said rival camps of hundreds of youths, some supporting and others opposing the junta, clashed in downtown Bamako on Thursday morning, and a group of junta supporters briefly occupied the airport landing strip.

As well as Ivory Coast’s president, the ECOWAS delegation was meant to include Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou, and Benin’s Yayi Boni.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.