Clashes broke out between rival groups in Mali’s capital Bamako on Thursday as its west African neighbours issued a 72 hour deadline for the leaders of last week’s coup d’etat to return to democracy.
Supporters of the new military junta threw stones at those opposed to the suspension of civilian rule.
The five regional leaders of the economic group ECOWAS threatened Mali with diplomatic isolation, a closure of trade routes and a funding freeze from the region’s central bank. The ultimatum was made after an ECOWAS delegation was prevented from landing in the Malian capital Bamako.
“There will be a recall of ambassadors of our member states and a travel ban for members of the military junta and their associates within our region,” said Desire Kadre Ouedraogo, Commission President of ECOWAS.
As a land-locked country, neighbours have also threatened to cut Mali off from access to the region’s seaports. Neighbours fear their countries, many of which have been victims of civil war and revolutions before, could once again become vulnerable.
Junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo called on ECOWAS leaders to let Mali solve its own problems.
Renegade soldiers from Mali’s military seized power on March 21st, complaining about the handling of a rebellion in the north of the country by the nomadic Tuareg tribe.