West African states imposed diplomatic and economic sanctions on Mali after leaders of a military coup failed to step down.
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) had imposed a Monday deadline for the coup plotters to step down. The chief of the junta in Mali had promised to restore civilian rule and call new elections, but so far hasn't done so.
The sanctions include suspension of Mali’s membership in Ecowas; a freeze on the assets of the leaders of the coup; and a closure of the borders between Mali and other Ecowas states, according to various news reports.
The West African states arrived at their decision at an emergency meeting in Dakar, Senegal, where Macky Sall was sworn in as president on Monday.
The coup's leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, said Sunday his army forces will restore the constitution and all state institutions; however he provided no fixed timetables for new elections.
“We will leave conditions for a good transition to preserve national unity, we will engage, under the eyes of mediators, in consultations with all the actors of society in the context of a national convention in order to put in place a transitional body with the aim of organizing calm, free, transparent and democratic elections in which we will not participate,” Sanogo said in a statement.
The military seized power on March 22 from democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Toure. The military claimed the coup was necessary because of Toure’s failure in dealing with the threat of the separatist Tuareg rebellion.
Both Britain and France have advised their citizens to flee Mali, according to Voice of America; however, the French government, which once ruled Mali and much of West Africa, said it won't intervene in the crisis.
Meanwhile, Tuareg rebels have taken control of the entire northern part of Mali over the weekend, exploiting the growing political instability in the poor, landlocked, desert nation.
Ecowas, a regional group of 15 West African countries, was created in 1975 to help foster economic integration across the region. They have called on the Tuaregs to cease their military advances southward.
The Tuaregs in January began an insurgency, and they've long demanded autonomy from Mali's capital Bamako. Many Tuaregs had fought as soldiers and mercenaries for Libya’s former leader, Moammar Gadhafi; they fled to Mali after the Tripoli regime collapsed.
Britain's Independent reported that an economic blockade may hurt Mali, which desperately needs not only food and financial aid, but also the support of neighboring militaries to clamp down on the Tuareg rebellion.
The civil conflict in Mali has displaced more than 200,000 people amid fears of a famine.