A group of West African president's cancelled their visit to Mali mid-flight after hundreds of pro-junta supporters rushed the runway at Bamako's airport on Thursday.
It was called off after the junta allowed demonstrators onto the tarmac, an anonymous official told Reuters Africa. Understandably this created a security scare forcing the heads of state to suspend their arrival.
Representatives from the Economic Community Of West African States, a regional group and trading bloc made up of 15 countries, were scheduled to meet with the leaders of last week's military coup in Mali.
The presidents of Ivory Coast, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Liberia were going to pressure Mali's new leaders to restore constitutional rule in the country. Thousands of supporters of the country's new military leaders rallied against the group in the capital city on Thursday after Ecowas said that it would considered using sanctions against Mali. Some of those that stormed the airport carried signs readying Ecowas, let us solve our own problems and Ecowas, shame of Africa, Reuters reported.
This unfortunate incident can't be an obstacle to finding a solution to the crisis. The bridge hasn't been burnt, Adama Bictogo, an adviser to Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara, told the Associated Press. And certainly it was youthfulness and inexperience that let this happen, or perhaps they just let things get out of control.
If security allows, the Ecowas meeting could be rescheduled for Friday.
They might return (to Mali) tomorrow if the conditions are auspicious, an Ecowas official said. A lot depends on what they decide in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and the discipline of the junta in complying with the minimum security requirements.
Mali's president Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown during a nighttime coup last Wednesday Toure amid concern that he was mishandling the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country. Toure had already announced that he would not run in April's presidential elections but the recent push of the northern rebels was too much of the military to abide.
The ex-President's whereabouts are currently unknown, but he said during an interview on French radio on Wednesday that he was still in the country and was safe.