Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - In its second reaction to the military putsch in Mali Thursday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the coup and promised to take urgent measures to restore democratic rule in its member state.
''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 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''.
The 15-member regional bloc expressed ''deep concern and disappointment'' with the overthrow of President Amadou Toumani Touré, and its replacement by a military junta of junior officers, the National Committee for the Rectification of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR), led by Capt. Amadou Aya Sanogo.
It condemned ''this usurpation of power from a democratically-elected Government, particularly just over a month before the nation is due to go to the polls to elect a new President''.
''The action of the Junta is completely at odds with the provisions of the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and seriously undermines the painstaking gains that the ECOWAS Region has made in the last two decades to entrench democratic culture and the rule of law.
''By this unconstitutional act, the Junta has automatically alienated and outlawed itself from the Community, and ECOWAS calls on it to immediately relinquish power to the rightful Government so that the country could return to constitutional normality,'' the Commission said.
It also warned the rebel Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), whose rebellion in the north of the country triggered the coup, against taking advantage of the situation to continue with atrocities and seizure of territory in the north, and urges the rebels, as well as all other armed militias in the north, to observe a cease-fire and lay down their weapons.
-0- PANA SEG 22Mar2012