West African nations lift sanctions on Mali | News | DW | 08.04.2012
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West African nations lift sanctions on Mali

Following an agreement by Mali's ruling junta to return to constitutional order, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States has agreed to immediately end its embargo on the country.

West African leaders lifted week-old sanctions against Mali on Sunday, as the man tapped to lead the country's interim civilian government returned to his homeland.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said the sanctions would be lifted immediately after an agreement with the military junta on the restoration of constitutional order. ECOWAS had placed a complete embargo on Mali on Monday, closing borders to the country and freezing access to its account at the regional bank.

The sanctions were in response to a surprise military coup that took place on March 22, ousting President Amadou Toumai Toure. After furious responses from both ECOWAS and the African Union, coup leaders agreed on Friday to restore constitutional order.

Dioncounda Traore walks with Burkina Faso's Foreign Affairs Minister

Parliamentary speaker Dioncounda Traore, center, returned to Mali late Saturday

Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said a prime minister and government would be in place "in the next few days."

Interim leader returns home

Dioncounda Traore, the speaker of parliament whom the agreement chose to serve as president until elections can be held, reportedly returned to Mali late on Saturday. Traore was in Burkina Faso when the coup took place, while President Toure has not been seen in public since. A promise to ensure Toure's safety was part of the transition deal.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon late Saturday released a statement calling on the junta "to expeditiously implement the terms of the framework agreement, which provides for the transfer of power back to the constitutional authorities, as consistently called for by the Security Council and the international community as a whole."

The coup took place after military officers became fed up with President Toure's handling of a separatist rebellion by ethnic Tuareg in the country's north. The Tuareg rebels declared independence in the north, a territory they refer to as Azawad.

acb/tj (AFP, dpa)