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West African leaders meet to discuss Mali

West African leaders were due to meet in Ghana on Sunday to discuss a response to Mali’s second coup in nine months, which has sparked warnings of fresh sanctions and deep concerns over stability in the volatile Sahel region.

Mali’s new President Colonel Assimi Goita arrived in Accra on Saturday for preliminary talks ahead of the extraordinary summit of regional bloc ECOWAS, which was due to start at 1400 GMT.

Presidents Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso’s Marc Christian Kabore were among those attending the summit, which came as another deadly jihadist attack underscored Mali’s chronic instability.

Col. Goita led the young Army officers who overthrew Mali’s elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last August over perceived corruption and his failure to quell a bloody jihadist insurgency.

After the takeover, the military agreed to appoint civilians as interim President and Prime Minister under pressure from ECOWAS, which has served as a mediator.

Broken promises

But on Monday, soldiers detained transitional President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, releasing them on Thursday while saying that they had resigned.

The twin arrests triggered a diplomatic uproar and marked Mali’s second apparent coup within a year.

Mali’s constitutional court completed Col. Goita’s rise to full power on Friday by naming him transitional president.

With the junta going back on its previous commitment to civilian political leaders, doubts have been raised about its other pledges, including holding elections in early 2022.

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