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ECOWAS Threatens Mali Junta With New Sanctions

May 14, 2012

West African bloc ECOWAS says it will reimpose sanctions on junta leaders in Mali if they block efforts to restore civilian rule.

The ECOWAS Commission said Monday it condemns what it called "continued interference with the transition" by junta chief Captain Amadou Sanogo and his allies.

On Saturday, two ECOWAS envoys quit talks with the junta because of an impasse over who will head a transitional government.

The 40-day mandate of interim president Dioncounda Traore runs out next week, and Sanogo reportedly wants to be installed as Mali's transitional leader.

On Monday, Sanogo told journalists he will call a national convention to choose who will lead the country until elections are held.

The communications director of ECOWAS, Sonny Ugoh, said that talks with the junta are not over.

"Well, we will continue the discussions," he said. "That is the beauty of engagement: you disagree and then continue to discuss and then try and see how can you resolve the outstanding issues, and on that basis you can come to an agreement."

ECOWAS imposed sanctions on junta leaders April 2 but lifted them April 6 after the junta signed an agreement on the proposed transition.

Malian soldiers ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure in March, saying he had failed to properly equip the army to fight Tuareg rebels in the north.

The Tuaregs have since declared an independent nation in the north, although some areas have fallen under the control of armed Islamist groups. A convoy of humanitarian aid was due to deliver food and medicine to the regional centers of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu on Monday.

African nations have rejected the Tuaregs' independence declaration. The ECOWAS statement Monday said a standby force is ready to assist in efforts to recover Mali's territorial integrity, as well as protect humanitarian corridors.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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