Source: The Associated Press/UT San Diego
A woman talks with security forces providing security for a march in support of a recent military coup, in Bamako, Mali Wednesday, March 28, 2012. The body representing nations in western Africa has suspended Mali and has put a peacekeeping force on standby in the most direct threat yet to the junta that seized control of this nation in a coup last week.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) — AP
The West Africa regional bloc says its sealing its borders with Mali and closing the country’s bank account following a coup that overthrew Mali’s democratically elected president.
Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, commission president for the bloc known as ECOWAS, said Thursday that Mali’s account was being frozen at the regional central bank.
The closure of borders with many neighboring nations also cuts off Mali’s supply of gasoline.
A group of mutinous soldiers seized power last week in a coup, overthrowing President Amadou Toumani Toure, who remains in hiding. He had been due to leave office soon following next month’s election.
Several thousand people took to the streets this week in support of the military takeover, indicating that frustration with Toure is more widespread than the mutinous soldiers.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) – Five African presidents seeking to restore Mali’s elected government were forced to make a mid-air U-turn and head to Ivory Coast to hold their meeting, after demonstrators supporting the military junta took over the tarmac to stop the jets from landing, officials said.
The presidents of Ivory Coast, Benin, Liberia, Niger and Burkina Faso were due to arrive in Mali on Thursday to press for the departure of the junior officers that grabbed power in a coup last week, reversing over two decades of democratic rule in this landlocked nation south of the Sahara.
The planes carrying the presidents were turned around after it became clear that the demonstrators had taken over the tarmac. They landed in the capital of Ivory Coast, where they went ahead with their meeting, officials said.
A senior adviser to the Ivorian president said that the five leaders were considering imposing economic and political sanctions on the regime of Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, and that the coup leader’s unwillingness to even secure the airport for their arrival shows that he is not a partner worth taking seriously.
The adviser to President Alassane Ouattara, who could not be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said that the leaders are considering cutting off the gas supply to Mali, which can be done by sealing the border with Ivory Coast from where petroleum products are imported. They are also considering a travel ban on members of the junta and their family, as well as cutting off the supply of cash.
At the Bamako airport, Ouattara’s Minister of African Integration Adama Bictogo, who had arrived in Mali on an earlier flight, told reporters that the presidents had not felt safe landing after pro-coup demonstrators flooded the runway.
« The meeting (in Bamako) was canceled for security reasons, » said Bictogo. « When we arrived this morning we saw that the security hadn’t been organized and that around 100 people had managed to get on the tarmac. This prevented the plane from landing, and there was hostility in the air, » he said.
He said that while he was waiting for the leaders to arrive, he took the opportunity to meet in the VIP lounge with coup leader Sanogo, and stressed the position of the Economic Community of West African States, who had sent the five-president delegation. Sanogo did not go to Abidjan for the meeting.