Regional leaders are due to hold a summit to discuss how to respond to the latest developments in Mali, where gunfire erupted Wednesday in the capital as junta soldiers searched for those responsible for a counter-coup earlier this week.
Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had scheduled the meeting Thursday in Dakar, Senegal to consider the situation in Guinea-Bissau, but decided to expand the talks to include Mali.
Sonny Ugoh, communications director for ECOWAS, told VOA the regional bloc had hoped the formation of a transitional civilian government would stabilize Mali and pave the way for new elections.
“Unfortunately we have this latest development, which neither helps the process of restoration of democracy in Mali, nor the peace and stability of the country. Indeed, it's not even helpful to the situation that we find ourselves in the north of the country, where some portions of the country have been taken over by separatists.”
At least 22 people were killed in clashes that started late Monday when soldiers loyal to ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure attempted to take control of strategic sites around the capital.
Renegade soldiers ousted Mr. Toure on March 22, accusing him of failing to properly equip the army to handle a Tuareg rebellion in the north.