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Mali, Guinea Bissau face more sanctions

Pressure mounted on coup leaders in Mali and Guinea Bissau Friday after west African presidents vowed more sanctions amid fears of growing instability in the region.

In Mali, junior officers who toppled the government in March are still imposing their authority despite formally giving way to a new government.

Guinea-Bissau’s ruling military junta, hit with EU sanctions on Thursday, has refused to quit power.

Regional leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Senegal’s capital on Thursday and warned the coup leaders they would face new sanctions if they continued to defy the 15-nation bloc’s demands.

The group also agreed to put a west African force on stand-by to deal with the volatile situation in northern Mali, where a loose coalition of Tuareg and Islamist rebels seized control after the coup.

“Recent developments in Mali are a source of grave concern. Africa and the world are watching us,” Senegal’s President Macky Sall told his counterparts, making his first major intervention on the international stage after being elected in March.

Tensions flared again early this week as elite “Red Beret” paratroopers who had remained loyal to the ousted Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure — reportedly sheltered in the Senegalise embassy in Bamako — attempted a counter-coup against the junta, but were repulsed.

The clashes left 22 people dead, according to hospital sources.

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara, the current ECOWAS chief, condemned the refusal of the Mali and Guinea-Bissau juntas to accept the bloc’s decisions.

“The defiance of the two military juntas is leading us to take further steps to implement our organisation’s decisions,” he added.

He warned that “situation in Mali is deteriorating, and frequent about-turns by the Guinea-Bissau junta are delaying the return to constitutional order.”

Guinea-Bissau’s coup leaders came under additional sanctions Thursday as the European Union slapped an assets freeze and travel ban on six officers involved in the coup.

Plans for a return to constitutional rule after the coup led by army chief Antonio Indjai are clouded in ambiguity.

The junta initially accepted a 12-month transition programme brokered by the region. However, three days later talks in Banjul collapsed and ECOWAS slapped the coup leaders with sanctions, saying Indjai was not willing to negotiate.

In Mali, coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo agreed last month to an ECOWAS-brokered deal that led to a new transitional government.

Although he has formally quit power, Sanogo remains an influential political force and has refused ECOWAS demands for elections within 12 months.

He has also rejected plans to send foreign troops into northern Mali, captured by a loose coalition of Tuareg and Islamist rebels after the coup.

ECOWAS leaders made it clear Thursday they were ready to send a regional force there if Bamako requested it.

Also attending the talks was Mali’s interim president Dioncounda Traore, appointed to lead the country back to democracy after the coup.

Signature : BAMAKO (AFP)

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