ECOWAS suspends Mali's membership after coup

West African regional bloc ECOWAS suspended Mali's membership on Sunday after the country's military overthrew its leaders last week - the second such coup in just nine months.

The decision was made during an emergency summit held by leaders of the fifteen-member Economic Community of West African States in Ghana's capital Accra.

Mali's neighbours, as well as international powers, fear the country's political instability could undermine a regional fight against Islamist militants.

The country is a home base for regional affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Assimi Goita, a Malian army colonel who led the last coup in August, ordered the arrests of both the president and prime minister last Monday.

The pair resigned while imprisoned and were later released.

Goita was declared president on Friday.

ECOWAS did not call for the new interim president to step down.

It also did not impose any new sanctions like they did last August.

Instead, it said a new civilian prime minister should be nominated.

Ghana's Foreign Minister, Shirley Botchway.

"One of the decisions of the heads of state is that they should ensure that in the next few days there is a civilian prime minister who will form a government, a transitional government for the rest of the period. At the same time work with ECOWAS to ensure that the transition is on track towards the end goal, which is to return the people of Mali to democratic rule."

In a communique after their summit, the bloc said Mali's plans to hold elections next February should be 'absolutely maintained'.

While Goita attended the summit, he gave no immediate comment.