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Mali’s Isolation Grows as Junta Announces New Constitution

Mali’s regional isolation is growing, with its suspension from the Economic Community of West African States on the same day the military junta said it has written a new constitution.

A delegation of leaders from the group known as Ecowas will visit landlocked Mali this week. Today, chiefs of defense staff from seven countries will travel to Mali, the bloc said in a statement issued today in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, following yesterday’s emergency meeting there on Mali.

“Mali needs to see the immediate return of the normal functioning of its democratic institutions,” Ivorian President and Ecowas Chairman Alassane Ouattara said yesterday as he announced Mali’s suspension from the group.

The African Union also suspended Mali following the March 22 coup that ousted President Amadou Toure, while the U.S. and the European Union cut off non-food aid. A group of army officers, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, said on state television they had taken over the government and suspended the constitution.

Mali’s junta adopted a new constitution, with Sanogo acting as head of state until elections are organized, according to a copy of the document printed in state-owned l’Essor newspaper today. No member of the military junta will be allowed to run in elections, according to the constitution. No date was given for the vote. Mali had been due to hold a presidential election on April 29.

Democratic Rule

“The junta’s rhetoric is softening and the leadership are eager to seek a political solution,” Anna Osborne, senior analyst with Bath, U.K.-based risk advisory company Maplecroft, said in an e-mailed note. The new constitution “is indicative of attempts to show willingness for the restoration of democratic rule.”

Mali vies with Tanzania as Africa’s third-biggest producer of gold. Companies including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Randgold Resources Ltd. operate in the country. Randgold’s shares pared their losses, dropping 1.1 percent to 5,565 pence by 2:56 p.m. in London, after declining as much as 2.7 percent. AngloGold declined 1.6 percent to 287.6 rand in Johannesburg trading.

Randgold officials met with members of the junta on March 26, the company said in an e-mailed statement today. They were assured that “the situation was under control and that the state was still functioning,” according to the statement. Its mines have continued to operate, Randgold said.


Ecowas leaders said they wouldn’t recognize the Sanogo-led junta, known as the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and the State. They appointed Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, which borders Mali, as the region’s mediator in the crisis and said travel and financial sanctions may be imposed on the junta members.

A rally of coup supporters was held today at the Place de la Liberte in Bamako, where they met Lieutenant Amadou Konare, the junta’s spokesman.

“Mali needs to make its own democracy,” Aminata Traore, head of the Forum pour l’Autre Mali, a civil-society group, said at the demonstration.

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