A mission to Mali by four West African presidents seeking to restore the country's democratically elected government was aborted today when the plane carrying the heads of state turned around mid-air due to security concerns.
The presidents of Ivory Coast, Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso, representing the regional economic bloc ECOWAS, were to meet with the leader of last week's coup in Mali, the Associated Press reported.
But pro-junta demonstrators had reportedly gathered on the tarmac in Bamako, Mali's capital, before the plane's scheduled arrival, shouting slogans against ECOWAS.
Instead, negotiations with Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo will take place at Abidjan airport in Ivory Coast, the AP said.
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ECOWAS has threatened military force if Mali's elected government isn't restored. The 15-nation group suspended Mali from its membership on Tuesday.
Agence France-Presse reported that the delegation to Mali, led by Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who is the current ECOWAS head, was supposed to meet with the junta leaders at midday, but the plane turned around while in Malian airspace.
Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure, ousted in a coup, told AFP he is safe in Bamako and is not being held captive by the military junta.
Renegade soldiers in Mali, frustrated over their government's handling of a Tuareg rebellion in the north, seized control of the country on March 22. The coup happened one month before Mali's presidential election, in which the democratically elected Toure is due to step down.
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