Air­port demon­stra­tion turns 4 African pres­i­dents away from Mali for talks

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY RUK­MINI CAL­LI­MACHI

BAMAKO, MALI | Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Mali’s mil­i­tary junta and four West African pres­i­dents seek­ing to re­store the coun­try’s elected gov­ern­ment will take place in Ivory Coast, af­ter the plane car­ry­ing the lead­ers to Mali turned around be­cause demon­stra­tors were on the air­port tar­mac, an ad­viser to Ivory Coast’s pres­i­dent said Thurs­day.

The ad­viser said the plane never landed as pre­vi­ously re­ported, but turned around af­ter fly­ing over the air­port.

The four pres­i­dents rep­re­sented the West African eco­nomic bloc, ECOWAS, which is threat­en­ing mil­i­tary force if Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo doesn’t step down in Mali.

Wit­nesses said groups of demon­stra­tors had gone onto the tar­mac be­fore the sched­uled ar­rival of the plane shout­ing “Shame on ECOWAS. Mali is for us.”

“There was not enough se­cu­rity, so we are go­ing back to Abid­jan,” the ad­viser told the As­so­ci­ated Press. “The meet­ing is now go­ing to be held at the Abid­jan air­port.”

He spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not per­mit­ted to speak to the press. He said the junta lead­ers also would travel to Abid­jan, Ivory Coast, for the meet­ings.

Pres­i­dents from Ivory Coast, Benin, Niger and Burk­ina Faso were to meet with the army cap­tain who led the coup last week fol­low­ing a mutiny at an army base.

“We plan on im­pos­ing sanc­tions im­me­di­ately if they do not re­store con­sti­tu­tional or­der,” the ad­viser said.

A diplo­mat from one of the four West African coun­tries who was at the air­port Thurs­day con­firmed that “the meet­ing will be held in a dif­fer­ent coun­try.”

Last week’s coup hap­pened in one of the few es­tab­lished democ­ra­cies in the trou­bled western half of the African con­ti­nent.

Capt. Sanogo is based at the Kati gar­ri­son, a mil­i­tary camp lo­cated a dozen miles from the pres­i­den­tial palace.

It was at that gar­ri­son that a mutiny erupted March 21, led by troops an­gry over the treat­ment of fel­low sol­diers killed in op­er­a­tions in the coun­try’s north, where they were sent to fight Tuareg rebels.

The sol­diers ac­cused the coun­try’s demo­crat­i­cally elected Pres­i­dent Amadou Toumani Toure of mis­han­dling the op­er­a­tions and of send­ing the mil­i­tary to the re­mote re­gion with­out enough am­mu­ni­tion.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo has led a coup in Mali that has the West African eco­nomic bloc, ECOWAS, threat­en­ing mil­i­tary force if he doesn’t step down.

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