The African Union on Friday suspended Mali following a military coup and said it would send a joint team with the West African bloc ECOWAS to urge a return to constitutional order.
The AU Peace and Security Council “decided that Mali should be suspended… until effective restoration of constitutional order is achieved without delay,” Paul Zolo, Nigeria’s envoy to Ethiopia and the AU, told reporters.
Zolo made the announcement following a meeting of the Council at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
AU Commission chief Jean Ping said the pan-African bloc and ECOWAS will send a joint team to Mali to seek a return of constitutional order after mutinous troops ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure on Thursday.
Rebel soldiers calling themselves the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy seized control of the capital Thursday, accusing the government of failing to tackle terrorism and put down a Tuareg-led insurrection in the north.
The coup has sparked widespread condemnation including by the AU, individual African countries, the European Union and the United States.
The Economic Community of West African States, which met in Nigeria, condemned the action by the renegade soldiers who claimed they had seized power from an “incompetent” regime.
ECOWAS president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo was headed Friday to the Malian capital to meet the junta leaders.
“It will be an initial contact which we will have in Bamako,” Ouedraogo told reporters in Burkina Faso.
He said that ECOWAS “deems it necessary to be on the ground to evaluate the situation and to hold talks with the authorities to ensure that the guiding principles of democracy and good governance are respected.”
What began as a mutiny over the government’s response to the rekindled Tuareg insurrection in the north on Wednesday turned into a full-blown coup as soldiers seized control of the presidential palace and the government broadcaster.
President Toure was forced to flee and his whereabouts remain unclear. France said its efforts to reach him were unsuccessful and urged coup leaders not to harm him.
Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo told journalists in an interview that Toure was “doing very well”, and members of the government arrested by soldiers were safe.