Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Six West African leaders who are members of the high level delegation constituted at the just-ended extraordinary summit of ECOWAS, over the coup in Mali, were due in the country Thursday to reinforce the regional drive to restore constitutional order there, the ECOWAS Commission said in a statement made available to PANA.
The leaders, scheduled to meet the hierarchy of the junta on arrival, are to ensure the practical implementation of the two key decisions of the summit, namely the immediate restoration of constitutional order and securing a ceasefire in the conflict between government forces and separatist rebels in the north of the country.
The junta ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup on 22 March that has been widely condemned by ECOWAS and the international community.
ECOWAS Chairman and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire is leading the delegation. which also includes the Presidents of Benin, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger and Nigeria for the one-day visit.
Ahead of their arrival, a seven-member delegation of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff, led by its Chairman, the Chief of Defence Staff of Cote d'Ivoire, Gen. Soumaila Bagayoko, arrived in the country on a "sensitization mission" and are currently holding talks with representatives of the junta.
Other members of the delegation, which was constituted by regional leaders during the extraordinary summit, are the Chiefs of Defence staff of Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.
On arrival, they met with officials of the junta to convey the message of the summit for the rapid restoration of constitutional order, brief them on the measures envisaged by ECOWAS to assist the country protect its territorial integrity, inform them of the consequences of non compliance among other issues.
The delegation of the defence chiefs was joined later by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, the minister of regional integration for Cote d'Ivoire and the foreign ministers of Burkina Faso and Niger.
On Tuesday, ECOWAS suspended Mali and threatened other sanctions, including a travel ban, against the junta if it fails to restore constitutional order.
The 15-member regional bloc has also threatened the use of force to dislodge the putschists if they ignore calls to restore the ousted President.
-0- PANA SEG 29Mar2012