A Malian junta announced Thursday the closure of the country’s borders after claiming to have seized power from President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup d’etat in the early hours of the morning.
“We have closed all the borders until further notice,” Sergeant Salif Kone said in a statement on state television, surrounded by the band of mutineers who have formed a junta calling itself the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy.
African Union condemns Mali coup
The African Union on Thursday condemned renegade soldiers in Mali who claimed to have ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup.
“The chairperson of the (AU) Commission strongly condemns this act of rebellion, which seriously undermines constitutional legality and constitutes a significant setback for Mali,” the pan-African body said in a statement.
Is Mali President still in Bamako?
Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure and his personal bodyguards are still in the capital of Bamako, Agence France Presse reported on Thursday, referring to a source in the presidential administration.
The announcement came after a group of renegade Malian soldiers staged a coup in protest against the government’s failure to tackle a Tuareg rebellion in the country’s north.
In the early hours of Thursday, the mutinous troops seized the presidential palace, arresting a number of ministers.
Also on Thursday, Captain Amadou Sanogo, head of the newly formed National Committee for the Re-establishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State, announced the imposition of a national curfew in Mali.
Coup in Mali
Reports from Bamako say that the coup followed a scenario that had been frequently used in Africa before. On Wednesday evening a group of soldiers from a military garrison stationed in the town of Kati 15 kilometers from the Malian capital seized the state TV and radio station and marched towards the palace of President Amade Toumani Toure. The president was not there. On the morning of March 22nd the coup leader, Captain Amadou Sango, said in his televised address to the nation that the president had been overthrown, the constitution had been suspended, the government and parliament had been dissolved and that a curfew would be in effect all over the country as of March 23rd . Finally, he announced a postponement of the presidential elections, scheduled for April 25th . In the same address, the coup leader pledged to reinstate constitutional order, create a national unity government and hand over power to civilian rulers. He said nothing, however, as to how all these promises were going to become reality.
The Voice of Russia’s Igor Yazon called Bamako to discuss the situation with Russian Ambassador to Mali Alexei Dumyan.
“Bamako is gripped by unrest. There has been a coup attempt by a group of soldiers. Soldiers are angry over the government’s failure to handle a separatist rebellion in the north of the country and address the army’s needs. They deem the authorities as incapable of coping with the situation. A military junta led by Captain Amadou Sango has taken over. In his address, Captain Sango said that the military had seized power in order to put an end to the terrorist threats coming from the north, to hold elections and to hand power to a democratically elected president. The junta is currently in consultations with representatives of the opposition to create a government of national unity. It is also sending missions to international organizations to brief them on the situation and the reasons which inspired it to seek a change of government. The whereabouts of the president are still unknown. Some Cabinet members have been arrested, including the foreign minister. Nothing is reported about casualties but there have been some. Gunshots were heard all over the capital last night, although everything is quiet now. The attempted coup did not come unexpected. However, what course the events will follow is hard to say.”
Whatever the case, the population is not gripped by panic, Alexei Dumyan said.