West African presidents plan to fly to Mali as regional powers escalate efforts to block a coup-driven regime change, after an opposition coalition there joined the junta in rejecting foreign interference. Leaders of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convened over the crisis on Thursday, after it suspended Mali, shut off borders and halted financial flows in response to Tuesday’s overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The bloc plans to send a delegation of presidents including the leaders of Niger, Senegal and Ghana to Mali’s capital, Bamako, to seek a resolution to the crisis. The coup, which has rocked a country already in the grip of a jihadist insurgency and civil unrest, has been met with almost universal condemnation abroad. Within Mali, the M5-RFP coalition of opposition groups said it was working with the mutineers. It labelled ECOWAS’ initial response to the coup over-reaction stemming from some regional leaders’ fears that it could set off unrest in their countries. In July, an ECOWAS delegation failed to broker an agreement between Keita and the opposition, who were leading large-scale protests against the government.
SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA