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Mali coup: AU suspends country, threatens sanctions

The African Union (AU) has suspended Mali from membership of the continental body in response to last week’s military coup.

In a statement, the AU also threatened to impose sanctions on the landlocked west African nation if a civilian-led government was not restored.

Last week, Mali’s military arrested interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and forced them to resign. The move derailed a transition to democratic elections following another military coup last August, which overthrew the previous administration.

Former vice president Assimi Goita, a colonel who led the August coup and last week’s revolt, was declared president on Friday.

The AU’s Peace and Security Council called for “an unimpeded, transparent and swift return to the civilian-led transition … failing which, the Council will not hesitate to impose targeted sanctions.”

Mali’s neighbours and world powers are concerned that the latest revolt will jeopardise a commitment to hold a presidential election in February, and undermine a regional fight against Islamist militants, some of which are based in Mali’s desert north.

On Sunday, ECOWAS, the West African regional grouping, suspended Mali from its ranks.

The AU had suspended the former French colony following last August’s coup, but reinstated it a few weeks later after the heads of the new civilian-led transitional government were announced.

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