The African Union has announced the suspension of Mali and threatened the country with sanctions, after a second military coup in nine months.
The coup had sparked deep concerns over stability in the volatile Sahel region, as international communities had warned of economic penalties and sanctions.
In a statement released late Tuesday, by AU’s Peace and Security Council, the union said it decided to immediately suspend the Republic of Mali from participation in all activities of the African Union, its Organs, and institutions until normal constitutional order has been restored in the country.
This follows a similar move by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Sunday also suspending Mali from the bloc.
The AU called for the military to urgently and unconditionally return to the barracks, and to refrain from further interference in the political processes in Mali.
It threatened that if the military did not hand back power to civilian transitional leaders, the Council would not hesitate to impose targeted sanctions and other punitive measures.
Condemning the coup, the Union said it was deeply concerned about the evolving situation in Mali and its negative impact on the gains made thus far in the transition process in the country.
Colonel Assimi Goita was at the ECOWAS crisis summit in Ghana on Sunday to argue the military’s case but has now returned to Mali.
Goita last August led army officers who overthrew elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, following mass protests over perceived corruption and a bloody jihadist insurgency.
After the takeover, the military agreed to appoint civilians as interim president and prime minister under the pressure of ECOWAS trade and financial sanctions.
But in a move that provoked a diplomatic uproar, soldiers last week detained transitional president Bah Ndaw and prime minister Moctar Ouane, releasing them on Thursday while saying that they had resigned.
Mali’s constitutional court completed Goita’s rise to full power on Friday by naming him transitional president, but with the junta going back on its previous commitment to civilian political leaders, doubts have been raised about its other pledges, including a promise to hold elections in early 2022.
The junta said this week it would continue to respect that timetable, but added that it could be subject to change.
By Victor Uzoho…
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