March 30 - West African leaders issue an ultimatum to the leaders of Mali's coup to hand over power to civilian rule or face sanctions. Paul Chapman reports.
Supporters of Mali's coup blockade the runway at Bamako airport. The leader of last week's coup persuaded them to leave but not before a delegation of regional leaders was forced to abandon its mission to the country. Later the head of the Economic Community of West African States issued an ultimatum. Mali's military junta has until Sunday to start handing power back to civilians or face the closure of trade borders, a funding freeze, and diplomatic isolation. SOUNDBITE: DESIRE KADRE OUEDRAOGO, ECOWAS COMMISSION PRESIDENT, SAYING (English): "The following sanctions were agreed and shall be implemented within 72 hours by Monday, April 2nd at the latest, if the CNRDR doesn't respect the demands of the conference of the Chiefs and State and Governments of Ecowas." On Thursday clashes erupted in Bamako between rival groups of youths, some supporting the coup, others opposed to it. Several people were wounded as the rivals hurled rocks at each other. The coup was sparked by anger within the army over President Amadou Toumani Toure's handling of a Tuareg-led rebellion in the north that's gained ground in recent weeks. Toure was planning to hand over power after elections due to take place in April. Mali's neighbours fear the coup could unleash similar attempts in countries which, between them, have been blighted by decades of civil war and power grabs. Paul Chapman, Reuters