Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) Friday suspended Mali from the 54-member bloc, following the military coup that brought renegade soldiers to power on Thursday.
"If things do not return to normalcy, the AU will move to the next level to apply sanctions, including assets freeze and travel ban, on the coup plotters," AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping told journalists at the end of a meeting on the Mali crisis in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The supreme organ of the AU, the Peace and Security Council (PSC), made the decision a day after the organization condemned the coup.
The renegade soldiers seized power, citing alleged government failure to quell the Tuareg rebellion in the northern part of the country.
The Mali crisis started at the military barracks in Kati on Wednesday when a mutiny broke out, leading to full-blown coup after months of anger over the government’s poor response to the Tuareg rebellion.
Coup leader Capt. Amadou Sanogo said Friday that the arrested ministers would soon be charged to court for trial and that President Ahmadou Toumani Toure, whose whereabouts are unclear, was unharmed.
He said the President was safe and “doing very well”, adding that he did not want to reveal his location.
"The AU has been receiving conflicting reports that the President was at an unnamed embassy in Bamako, but one report said he is still under the protection of his loyalists," Ping said.
“I think the soldiers [coup leaders] have not succeeded to convince other officers and generals to join them, having failed to get hold of the President,” Ping said.
-0- PANA OR/VAO 23March2012