Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Mali, where mutinous soldiers ousted the country's democratically-elected President last week, faces a possible suspension from ECOWAS as the regional bloc holds an extra-ordinary summit on the situation in its Member State Tuesday in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, PANA reported.
If the summit decides to suspend Mali's membership, the action will be in accordance with the provision of the 2001 regional Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
The principles enshrined in the Protocol, which are subscribed to by all the Member States, calls for zero tolerance for power obtained or maintained by unconstitutional means and requires that accession to power should only be through free, fair and transparent elections.
Suspension is the toughest sanction in ECOWAS books, and could be invoked to send a strong message to other Member States that the bloc will not tolerate a reversal of the foothold which democracy is gaining in the region.
Ahead of the extra-ordinary summit, a meeting of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff was held in Abidjan on Monday, and the outcome is expected to feed into the summit.
The African Union (AU) has already suspended Mali, following the coup by low-ranking soldiers reportedly protesting the government's poor handling of the Tuareg-led rebellion in the north.
ECOWAS had earlier condemned the coup and promised to take urgent measures to restore democratic rule in Mali.
''The ECOWAS Commission is closely monitoring the evolving situation in Mali and will take all necessary measures to ensure the maintenance of peace and security in the Region,'' the ECOWAS Commission said in a statement signed by its President, Desire Kadre Ouedraogo.
It said President Ouédraogo was in contact with the Ivorian leader and ECOWAS Chairman Alassane Dramane Ouattara, ''with a view to taking urgent action to ensure the rapid restoration of constitutional order in Mali''.
-0- PANA SEG 27Mar2012