Military Leaders Say Mali Capital Under Control

Posted May 1st, 2012 at 12:55 am (UTC-5)
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Mali's military leaders say they are still in control of the capital, Bamako, after an attempted counter-coup by forces loyal to ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure.

The secretary to Captain Amadou Sanogo, leader of the March 22 coup, told VOA that forces known as the Red Berets attacked the military with “foreign elements” at the city's airport and the national television station.

State television did not broadcast its usual evening newscast on Monday after fighting erupted late in the day.

But junta members delivered a televised statement Tuesday declaring the situation was under control.

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.

The renegade soldiers who seized power in March accused President Toure 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.

Since the coup, Tuareg rebels fighting alongside the Islamist group Ansar Dine have captured three northern regions. The rebels declared an independent state, a move that was rejected by neighboring countries and the African Union.