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Coup leader to consult on reform

The day after an embargo was placed on Mali, the soldier who led a recent coup said he agrees with restoring constitutional order, but first the country's ills need to be addressed by holding a national convention which will decide on the best way forward.

With Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo refusing to step down, surrounding nations have imposed severe financial sanctions on Mali, including the closing of the country's borders and the freezing of its account at the regional central bank.

The embargo went into effect overnight on Monday, after Sanogo failed to meet the 72-hour deadline imposed by the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, which had demanded he hand power to civilians immediately.

In his first comments since the sanctions were imposed, Sanogo invited Malians to join him at a convention Thursday - a convention he had earlier announced would decide on the type of transitional body will govern Mali, before new elections are held.

"Yes to the return to a constitutional order, but with a new Mali. Our Mali is sick in the depths of her being ... To this effect, we invite the entire political class and all the actors of society to come without exception to the national convention," Sanogo said. "We dare hope that our fathers at ECOWAS will take note of the decisions and conclusions of this convention, with the end of liberating the country from this impasse."

Mali's neighbours are hoping the embargo will economically suffocate the junta. Until that happens, it's likely to cause great strain to Mali's population of more than 15 million.

As the borders closed overnight, panicking Malians holding jerry cans lined up outside gas stations. The nation, roughly twice the size of France, imports all of its fuel, which is trucked in from neighbouring Ivory Coast and Senegal, and the country's electricity grid is also expected to falter.

Mali's president was sent into hiding on March 21 when a group of disgruntled soldiers mutinied at a military base located around six miles from the presidential palace, and then marched on the seat of government. In a matter of hours, they had succeeded in reversing more than two decades of democracy.

Rebels fighting a three-month-old insurgency took advantage of the power vacuum and have since effectively wrested control of the northern half of the country.

The United States, France and the European Union immediately cut all but essential humanitarian aid to the country.


From Belfast Telegraph