The African Union (AU) on Wednesday suspended Mali a day after its leaders were detained by mutineering soldiers and the president forced out.

The AU’s 15-member security council “suspends Mali from the African Union until restoration of constitutional order and demands release of President Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other government officials forcibly detained by the army,” the AU Peace and Security Council said on Twitter.

Keita said Wednesday he had stepped down to avoid “bloodshed” after he was detained in a coup, whose leaders pledged new elections after taking the president and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse into custody.

The 55-member AU had already condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” in the West African nation.

It joined a growing international chorus, including the US and European Union, that demanded the immediate release of the detained leaders.

Mali joins a handful of African nations in recent years to be suspended from the Africa-wide bloc, a move that bars them from all summits and meetings.

Mali’s neighbour Burkina Faso was suspended in 2015 for its own military coup. Sudan was barred last year during a bloody crisis there, while Egypt was suspended in 2013 when the army overthrew the elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

Daily Monitor

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