Ecowas warns coup leaders in Mali to restore order or face isolation
The bloc of West African states, Ecowas, has set coup leaders in Mali a three-day ultimatum to restore constitutional order or face diplomatic and economic isolation.
Five heads of state from the 15-nation regional bloc were heading on a plane to Mali on Thursday for crisis talks with the coup leaders, when they were forced to turn back after dozens of pro-coup demonstrators swarmed the runway at Bamako's airport.
At an emergency meeting, the delegation - made up of the presidents of Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Benin and Niger - urged Ecowas member states to place a travel ban on Mali's military rulers and threatened a "diplomatic and financial embargo" unless order is restored within 72 hours.
The grouping had already suspended landlocked Mali on Tuesday and has warned its regional troops are on standby.
The European Union, the United States and other Western powers have cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of support to Mali with the exception of emergency aid to drought-hit regions.
The coup leaders, in a bid to consolidate their power, have unveiled their own constitution. While they promise they will not run in future polls, no date for a return to democracy has been set.
Meanwhile, tensions have risen in the capital, Bamako, where pro-and anti-coup demonstrators clashed on Thursday injuring three people.
The coup leaders, who seized power on 22 March, voiced anger at the government's inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion, which has overwhelmed a poorly-equipped military.
Many Tuareg recently returned, heavily-equipped and battle-hardened, from Libya where they fought on the side of slain leader Moamer Kadhafi.