ABIDJAN — West African leaders decided late Thursday to send troops to coup-hit Mali and Guinea-Bissau to support their return to civilian rule and demanded coup leaders “return to barracks” in both countries.
At an extraordinary summit in Ivory Coast, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also said the two countries must prepare for legislative and presidential elections within a year.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, current head of ECOWAS, pledged a firm response to the instability “to prevent our sub-region from giving into terrorism and transnational criminality”.
“The safety of Europe and of the United States now starts in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea,” Ouattara said.
The coup in Mali on March 22 allowed Tuareg separatist rebels and armed groups, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, to take control of an area roughly the size of France in the remote desert north. — AFP