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ECOWAS Suspends Mali Over Coup


Malians in Ivory Coast protest homeland coup during emergency ECOWAS meeting, Abidjan, March 27, 2012.

Malians in Ivory Coast protest homeland coup during emergency ECOWAS meeting, Abidjan, March 27, 2012.

A West African regional group has suspended Mali's membership and will send at least five heads of state to the country in response to a coup carried out by renegade soldiers last week.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, chair of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, called an emergency meeting Tuesday in Abidjan. Afterward, in a statement, the member states said they are considering "all options" to end the crisis, noting that a peacekeeping force is ready for deployment.

The statement also said a delegation of African heads of state would travel to Mali within the next 48 hours to try to restore democracy. The group includes Mr. Ouattara as well as the leaders of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger, and Benin.

The United States, France and the European Union have already halted non-humanitarian aid to Mali in response to the coup.

The African Union has suspended Mali and the United Nations, the United States and other countries have called for a return to constitutional order.

The mutinous soldiers seized power on Thursday from President Amadou Toumani Touré.

Mr. Touré was due to step down in the coming weeks after serving two terms. A presidential election had been scheduled for late April.

The mutinous soldiers say they took power in order to launch a more effective response to an ethnic Tuareg rebellion in the north.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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