There has been widespread concern that the ongoing political upheaval in Mali will set back efforts to contain the country's growing Islamic insurgency. After a similar coup in 2012, Islamic extremists took advantage of a power vacuum and grabbed control of major towns in northern Mali.
Only a 2013 military intervention led by former colonizer France pushed extremists from those cities, and the international community has invested more than seven years into the fight against extremism there.
“The terrorists are taking advantage of the situation in Mali to flex their muscles even more,” Ghana's president warned Tuesday.
ECOWAS had attempted to mediate Mali's political crisis back in July after growing street demonstrations called for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. However, the political opposition made clear it would accept nothing short of his ouster, and mutinous soldiers capitalized on Keita's unpopularity when they launched the Aug. 18 coup.
Deep divisions have emerged in the weeks since between the opposition coalition and the junta leaders. Over the weekend, the opposition publicly criticized the junta for saying that the country's interim leader didn't have to be a civilian.
Ahmed reported from Bamako, Mali. Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.