UN Security Council to Hold Emergency Meeting on Mali

By Jay Gory, thecheers.org    2012-04-03 09:06:59    

The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Mali Tuesday, as military coup leaders remain in power and West African nations levy diplomatic and financial sanctions on the country.
The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Mali Tuesday, as military coup leaders remain in power and West African nations levy diplomatic and financial sanctions on the country.

Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, decided Monday to close all borders between Mali and member states, and cut off the currency flow to the country, which relies on the region's central bank.

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo told VOA he is confident ECOWAS can resolve the crisis. He says the group should encourage soldiers to return to their barracks, followed by a transition to elections and a return to democracy.

"We have to acknowledge what you may call legitimate complaints of the military, that they were given [a] task without adequate tools to perform the task," Obasanjo said. "I think our leaders having acknowledged that legitimate situation that you found yourself, but the way you've gone about it is not the right way, and that way is not acceptable."

Soldiers seized power from President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22, accusing him of failing to provide the army with enough resources to stop Tuareg rebels.

The heavily armed rebels arrived in northern Mali after the fall of neighboring Libya and launched an insurgency in mid-January. Tuareg separatists have been seeking autonomy for decades.

Obasanjo traced the situation in Mali to the failure to secure weapons in Libya.

"Part of what is happening is part of the fallout from Libya," he said. "Because what led to Mali is that the Tuaregs, some of whom got their weapons from the fallout from Libya, have been emboldened and more empowered so to say from easy access to weapons."

The ECOWAS heads of state met in Senegal's capital, Dakar, after the end of a 72-hour deadline for Mali's military junta chiefs to restore constitutional order.

According to a VOA correspondent at Monday's talks, ECOWAS said the junta's statement is a step in the right direction, but that it wants to see concrete action.

The regional group also called on Tuareg rebels in Mali's north to stop their advance. The rebels have seized three key towns since soldiers launched their coup last month.

Human rights group Amnesty International issued a statement Monday calling on the rebels to "protect the civilian population" in areas they control and ensure abuses do not occur.

The ECOWAS leaders also said they are putting a military force on standby. However, it is unclear when any troops would deploy and what their mandate would be.

On Sunday, coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo pledged coup leaders will work to organize a democratic vote and will not run in the elections.

Mali had been scheduled to hold elections this month, before Toure's overthrow. The president, who completed nearly two terms, was not going to run.

Britain and France have advised their nationals to leave the country, while the United States says American should make plans to depart, if necessary.

News by VOA news.
Jay Gory, The Cheers News

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