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ECOWAS presidents-Mali junta talks aborted amid hostile demonstration

(Xinhua)

13:59, March 30, 2012

BAMAKO, March 29 (Xinhua) -- The planned talks between West African presidents and Mali's junta were aborted on Thursday because of the presence of hostile demonstrators at the Bamako- Senou airport.

One of the presidents of the regional bloc ECOWAS was warned at 10:00 a.m. local time by that country's ambassador in Mali of the presence of hostile billboards. The president then told his counterparts in the mission to turn back only minutes before touching down in the Malian capital Bamako.

The transport plane carrying Beninese President Yayi Boni landed at the airport, but soon returned, according to sources of the airport.

Officials said the ECOWAS presidents had demanded the junta make all the arrangements for the mission to be conducted rapidly and under appropriate conditions of security.

The mission headed by Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Dramane Ouattara, who holds the ECOWAS presidency, also includes Boni, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, Nigerien President Mamadou Issoufi, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Boni is the executive president of the African Union. Compaore was recently named the mediator of the crisis in Mali, after helping some regional countries end the rule of junta or instability in recent years.

The mission was to inform the Malian junta of the decisions made at an extraordinary summit held in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire this week, including the suspension of Mali's membership in ECOWAS.

The aborted talks sparked confrontations between supporters of the mission and those who erected the billboards after learning about the planned arrival of the mission.

The junta declared an end to the rule by elected President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 in a coup, the latest in a series since 2008 in French-speaking countries in West Africa.

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