Gunfire Erupts in Mali After Counter Coup Attempt

Posted May 1st, 2012 at 9:20 am (UTC-5)
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Gunfire erupted Tuesday in the Malian capital, Bamako, on the second day of fighting between the ruling junta and soldiers loyal to ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure.

Witnesses reported hearing shots outside of the national broadcaster and the Kati army base, the headquarters of the junta troops. Several casualties were reported and junta members say a number of loyalist troops have been detained.

Junta members said in a televised statement Tuesday that they remain in control of key sites in the capital. They described the fighting as an attack by ill-intentioned people set on destabilizing Mali's transition to constitutional order.

The fighting, which erupted Monday, reportedly followed an attempt to arrest a member of the presidential guard who was a top military aid to former President Toure.

The renegade soldiers who seized power in March accused the president of failing to properly equip the army to handle a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

The new military government, under pressure from the regional bloc ECOWAS, later agreed to form a civilian transitional government to organize new elections.

Last week, Mali's interim leaders announced the formation of a new government that gave military officers three government posts – defense, interior security and interior ministry. The rest of the 24-member government is made up of civilians.

Cheick Traore, leader of Mali's African Convergence for Renewal party, told VOA that the power struggles in the country have not been good for the Malian people.

“The Malians are very confused since March 22 because in all of this nobody is asking Malians what they want, nobody is informing them properly and once again today they are very very very confused. They are traumatized, I should say.”

Burkina Faso's foreign minister, Djibril Bassole, told VOA that no matter who is in charge in Bamako, the regional bloc ECOWAS “will never accept that militaries seize power.” He said a meeting scheduled for Tuesday with junta leaders has been canceled.