African Union suspends Mali after coup, threatens sanctions

FILE - In this Thursday Sept. 21, 2006, file photo, Mali's Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Moctar Ouane addresses the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters. Mutinous soldiers arrested Mali's transitional President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Ouane, Monday, May 24, 2021, hours after a government reshuffle left out two members of the junta that seized power in a coup nine months earlier in the West African nation, the African Union said late in the day. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The African Union has suspended Mali and is threatening sanctions after the junta leader grabbed back control of the government last week, marking the second coup d’etat in only nine months.

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrive at the University of Pretoria Future Africa in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday, May 28, 2021. Macron and Ramaphosa are launching a program to support African vaccine production, a project backed by the European Union, the United States and the World Bank. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

The AU issued the threat late Tuesday when it announced Mali was suspended from all activities “until normal constitutional order has been restored in the country.”

The move is the latest diplomatic pressure on Mali’s military ruler Col. Assimi Goita: The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS already has suspended the country and former colonizer France has warned it may limit future dmilitary support.

The AU urged Mali’s military leadership to respect the transition charter that was agreed to after the last coup d’etat in August 2020. Under that agreement, Mali is to hold new elections by February 2022.

Goita, the military colonel who led the 2020 coup, had been serving as vice president in the transitional government. Last week he deposed the civilian president and prime minister, saying they had not informed him ahead of a cabinet shakeup.

On Friday, Mali’s constitutional court said that Goita would now serve as interim president. While Goita has said elections will still go ahead next year, concerns are mounting about what role junta leaders may play.

The international community has widely condemned the power grab, fearing that instability in Mali could further embolden Islamic extremists who have been carrying out attacks for nine years in the country’s volatile north.

CARLEY PETESCH I Associated Press

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