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ECOWAS suspends Mali over coup

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West African leaders, meeting in a regional summit Sunday, suspended Mali from the Economic Community of West African States bodies after a second coup in nine months by Mali’s military.

The coup last Monday sparked warnings of fresh sanctions and deep concerns over stability in the volatile Sahel region.

Ten regional heads of state and three foreign ministers attended the extraordinary summit in Accra, with former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan serving as mediator in the crisis.

“The suspension from ECOWAS takes immediate effect until the deadline of the end of February 2022 when they are supposed to hand over to a democratically elected government,” Ghana’s Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said after the meeting.

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The final declaration called for the immediate appointment of a new civilian prime minister and the formation of an “inclusive” government.

Mali’s new president Colonel Assimi Goita had arrived in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Saturday for preliminary talks.

Goita led the young army officers who overthrew Mali’s elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August over perceived corruption and his failure to quell a bloody jihadist insurgency.

After the takeover, the military agreed to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister under pressure from ECOWAS.

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But on Monday, soldiers detained transitional president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane, releasing them on Thursday while saying that they had resigned.

The constitutional court confirmed Goita as interim president on Friday.

ECOWAS demanded that the pair be released from house arrest.

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