ECOWAS to send troops to Mali, Guinea-Bissau

ABIDJAN - West African regional bloc ECOWAS said on Thursday it will send military forces to Mali and Guinea-Bissau to monitor their transitions back to civilian rule after their coups, and will impose sanctions if junta leaders try to cling to power.
The regional body expects both countries to organize and hold presidential elections in 12 months, it said in a statement issued following the conclusion of a meeting of heads of state in Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan.
Soldiers in Mali, once viewed as a poster-child of democracy in Africa, overthrew the government in March, while the army of tiny coastal nation Guinea-Bissau seized power and derailed elections during a putsch on April 12.
"The heads of state and of government decided to take all the necessary measures in order to assist Mali in the re-establishment of its unity and of its territorial integrity," according to the ECOWAS statement, read to ECOWAS officials and journalists late on Thursday.
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