West Africa to decide on sanctions against Mali

2012-04-02 14:43

West African leaders will decide whether to impose sanctions on Mali after soldiers behind a military coup said they would restore civilian rule. On the other hand, Tuareg rebels fighting for independence seized key cities in the north.

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) last week gave the leaders of the coup a 72-hour deadline to restore civilian rule or face sanctions and the possible use of military forces.

The deadline runs out today.

Sanctions to be discussed by leaders attending an emergency summit of the regional grouping in Senegal include sealing Mali’s borders, cutting off access to the central bank and possibly use force if power is not returned to civilians.

The Ecowas meeting will take place after the inauguration of Senegalese president-elect Macky Sall.

Mutinous soldiers led by Captain Amadou Sanogo seized power on March 22, accusing Mali’s government of not doing enough to fight rebels in the north-east of the nation.

Yesterday, Sanogo said he would restore the nation’s constitution and start preparations for a new elections, in which he would not stand.

Analysts say that a return to the constitution will only take effect once ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure returns to power.

Toure, who had been due to step down ahead of an election at the end of the month, is believed to be sheltering with loyalists outside of the capital, Bamako.

Tuareg fighters belonging to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) captured the towns of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu in the north-east at the weekend.

According to local media reports, residents of the ancient town of Timbuktu saw fighters belonging to an Islamist wing of the MNLA arrive in the town yesterday. They planted their flag in the sand, the reports said.

Timbuktu was the last important win for the MNLA, which is made up of several factions but is most significantly composed of Tuareg fighters.

Timbuktu, which has 60 libraries housing ancient scripts that have never been digitised, was a popular tourist destination until kidnappers claiming to belong to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb took five European tourists last year, killing one.

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