UN Chief Calls For Release of Detainees in Mali Coup

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 1:40 am (UTC-5)
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U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling for the immediate release of those arrested in Mali since last month's military coup, including high ranking public officials.

In a statement released Wednesday, Mr. Ban urged the military junta not to undermine efforts to restore constitutional rule in Mali. Mr. Ban's concerns follow word that Mali's former president, Amadou Toumani Toure, is being sheltered at Senegal's embassy in Mali's capital, Bamako. Mr. Toure's whereabouts had been unknown since the March 22nd coup.

On Tuesday, soldiers in Mali arrested at least seven prominent political and military figures, some of whom are allied with the former president's government. Mali's military junta has said it is working with a new transitional government to return the country to civilian rule, but the arrests have raised questions about who is in control.

Senegalese President Macky Sall told reporters in Paris on Wednesday that Mr. Toure is staying at the Senegalese ambassador's residence in Bamako. It is unclear why the former president is staying at the embassy or how long he will remain there.

Coup leaders have not given a reason for the detentions, but they said late Tuesday the arrested officials will be investigated by proper authorities.

Junta leader Amadou Sanogo has publicly stated he has retained a role in the country's transition to civilian rule.

After the economic regional bloc ECOWAS imposed harsh sanctions against coup leaders, the junta agreed last week to restore civilian rule and form a transitional government to organize new elections.

Rogue soldiers who took part in the coup accused former president Toure of failing to properly equip them to handle a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

Mr. Toure formally resigned on April 8, allowing the new interim government to take power.