Ecowas suspends Mali

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pretoria - The 15-member West African bloc, Ecowas, has suspended the membership of Mali to press the junta to return to the constitutional order.

The decision was made at an extraordinary summit held on Tuesday in Abidjan, the economic capital of Cote d'Ivoire, whose President Alassane Ouattara chairs Ecowas.

Ecowas also requested that the soldiers who now hold power relinquish it immediately. The bloc said it would send five members to Mali sometime this week.

The bloc has been scrambling with coups and coup attempts in West Africa in recent years, contributing to an end to the junta in Guinea and Niger.

The Ecowas sanction follows the suspension announced by the African Union on Friday, which reiterated zero tolerance for any unconstitutional change of government and its total rejection of any seizure of power by force.

A group of soldiers, calling themselves the National Committee for Redressement of Democracy and Restoration of the State (CNRDR), last Thursday toppled elected President Amadou Toumani Toure, accusing him of poorly handling the Tuareg rebels in northern Mali.

In the latest developments, the CNRDR on Tuesday evening announced the promulgation of a 69-article "basic act" as the country's new constitution during a transitional period to guarantee the rule of law in the country and a "pluralist democracy".

It also decided to reopen Mali's air space but the statement did not mention the reopening of the terrestrial borders.

A number of Malians, especially economic operators and transporters, have complained that they had suffered due to the closure of the borders.