The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has suspended Mali from its decision-making bodies over a “military putsch,” pledging a range of retaliatory actions, including financial sanctions.
Mutinying soldiers had arrested the nation’s President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, and some senior government officials on Tuesday afternoon following weeks of political tension in the country.
The president subsequently resigned from office in the early hours of Wednesday to “avoid bloodshed.”
In a statement by the 15-nation body Wednesday morning, it stated that its members would close land and air borders to Mali and pledged to demand sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.
“ECOWAS has noted with great concern the seizure of power by Malian military putschists,” the statement said.
The regional body demanded the immediate release of the Malian president and his other arrested officials.
Keita has faced growing public discontent since May, after the country’s top constitutional court overturned results from disputed parliamentary elections.
That ruling paved the way for the 75-year-old’s party to occupy a majority of the vacant seats.
In an effort to avoid chaos in the unstable country, ECOWAS then stepped in to mediate.
The body suggested the formation of a unity government and other measures late last month, but stuck by Keita.
However, the opposition movement repeatedly spurned compromise proposals, and continued to demand Keita’s departure.