West African leaders on Thursday said they would dispatch envoys to coup-stricken Mali to help secure “the return of constitutional order” and called for its ousted president to be restored to office.
“We have decided to immediately send a high-level delegation in order to ensure the immediate return of constitutional order,” the regional bloc, ECOWAS, said at the end of a video summit.
“We call for the restoration of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as president,” it said in a closing statement read by the president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, who chairs the meeting.
Rebel soldiers, on Tuesday, launched a mutiny in a barrack on the outskirts of Bamako, detained Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and declared they had taken power.
Calling itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, under the leadership of a colonel named Assimi Goita, the junta has vowed to stage elections within a “reasonable time” and respect “all past agreements,” including international anti-jihadist missions.
Issoufou said that through the talks, ECOWAS would “convey to the leaders of the military junta that the times of taking power by force are over in this region”.
He also called for the “immediate implementation” of the threat of sanctions against them.
The coup is Mali’s second in eight years.
The last one, in 2012, was followed by an insurrection in the north of the country which then developed into a jihadist insurgency that has spread into neighbour Niger and Burkina Faso.
Keita’s overthrow came after months of protests in which ECOWAS – the Economic Community of West African States – had tried unsuccessfully to play a mediating role.