Four Africa Presidents turn back from Mali

Last Updated: Friday, March 30, 2012 - 00:09

Bamako: 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 heads of state to Mali turned
around because demonstrators were on the airport tarmac, an
advisor to Ivory Coast`s president said Thursday.

The advisor said the plane never landed as previously
reported, but turned around after flying over the airport.
The four presidents represented the West African bloc,
ECOWAS, which is threatening military force if Capt Amadou
Haya Sanogo doesn`t step down.

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 advisor said.

"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 would also travel to Abidjan,
Ivory Coast for the meetings.

Presidents from Ivory Coast, Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso
were to meet with the army captain that 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 advisor 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.

Sanogo is now based at the Kati garrison, a military camp
located a dozen miles (kilometers) from the presidential
palace.

It was at that garrison that a mutiny erupted on 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.

Several thousand people took to the streets this week in
support of the military takeover, indicating that frustration
at Toure`s handling of the rebellion is widespread.
Toure has gone into hiding and his whereabouts are
unknown.

He gave an interview today to French radio RFI saying that
he was in good health and was carefully following the
developments.

PTI



First Published: Friday, March 30, 2012 - 00:09

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