Connect to share and comment

West African leaders abandon Mali mission

The presidents of Ivory Coast, Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso, representing ECOWAS, were to meet with the Mali junta leader but their plane turned around due to protesters on the runway.

Mali junta ecowas 20120329Enlarge
Demonstrators protest outside the "Bourse du Travail" in Bamako, Mali, on March 26, 2012 against the military junta that took over the reigns of the country last week. The International Crisis Group today urged the international community to act quickly to end a military junta in Mali, which ousted one of the region's successful democracies. (HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/Getty Images)

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. 

More from GlobalPost: Amadou Sanogo, Mali coup leader, denounces looting 

More from GlobalPost: Mali coup: Government overthrown, Bamako looted (PHOTO GALLERY) 

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.

More from GlobalPost: Mali coup: Soldiers overthrow government, loot presidential palace (VIDEO)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120329/mali-junta-ecowas-west-african-leaders-abandon-mission