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Mali: ECOWAS leaders meet in Accra to debate sanctions

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NIPAH DENNIS/AFP or licensors


West Africa's regional bloc ECOWAS leaders on Friday staged a summit over Mali's political crisis, three months after slapping tough sanctions on the Sahelian nation.

The talks in the Ghanaian capital Accra opened "behind closed doors between heads of state". Malian Foreign Minister Aboudlaye Diop confirmed the meeting in a tweet.

Also in discussions were the situation in Guinea and Burkina Faso, where coups have also taken place recently.

The summit comes about a week after an ECOWAS envoy former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan for Mali travelled to Bamako but the talks on restoring civilian rule were inconclusive.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is pushing for Mali's military, which seized power in 2020, to stage elections within 12-16 months. So far, junta head, Assimi Goita has defied international pressure to hold elections.

ECOWAS and UEMOA both applied economic and diplomatic sanctions on Mali in January after the junta proposed staying in power for up to five years.

On Thursday, the court of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) ordered the suspension of the Mali sanctions. It was unclear if the UEMOA court's suspension ruling would lead to the immediate lifting of the sanctions.

Mali's junta views the sanctions as illegal and vowed to challenge them in international courts.