, BAMAKO, Mar 29 – The presidents of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso on Thursday abandoned a trip to mediate with Mali’s junta after a brief protest by coup supporters on the airport runway, airport and security sources said.
Ivorian leader Alassane Ouattara “was in the Malian airspace, he turned back”, said a source at the Bamako airport. Burkinabe president Blaise Compaore was also no longer coming, said a security source.
The meeting between the junta leaders and leaders from the Economic Community of West African States was to be held in Bamako airport around noon. The ECOWAS team was to also include the presidents of Benin, Liberia, Niger and Nigeria.
Mali’s ousted leader Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown on March 22 by renegade soldiers unhappy with his handling of a Tuareg rebellion, said Thursday from an undisclosed location that he was safe in Bamako and not being held by the junta.
West African leaders have already warned that the region’s troops are on standby if the junta fails to engage in dialogue.
A special ECOWAS summit on Tuesday said the six heads of state within 48 hours to Mali to “allow a rapid return to constitutional rule.”