Mali Interim President Attacked, Taken to Hospital

Posted May 21st, 2012 at 1:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Mali's interim president has been rushed to a hospital after being attacked by protesters who entered the presidential palace.

VOA correspondent Anne Look in Bamako reports that interim president Dioncounda Traore was taken away in an ambulance after the incident Monday.

The extent of Mr. Traore's injuries was unknown.

Look reports the protesters forced their way into the presidential palace after Mr. Traore met with three delegates from a demonstration that took place in Bamako Monday.

The demonstrators were protesting an agreement that would allow Mr. Traore to stay in power past a constitutional deadline on Tuesday.

Mali has suffered through weeks of political turmoil since military officers seized power in a coup March 22.

Mr. Traore was installed as interim president in early April, as the West Africa bloc ECOWAS pressured junta leaders for a return to constitutional order.

ECOWAS and the junta leaders had reached a deal Sunday that would allow President Traore to remain in office until the country holds elections and transitions back to civilian rule.

The accord was signed after ECOWAS agreed to give the coup's leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, all the benefits and privileges of a former head of state.

In an interview with VOA on Monday, government spokesman Hamadoune Toure called the agreement “a positive move.” He said the junta leader's status as a former head of state does not mean he will hold sway during the transition process.

“It's not recognizing him to have a say, but they [ECOWAS] said he will have advantages recognized to all former heads of state. They invited him to work as a team with the president and with the prime minister for the supreme interests of Mali.”

Soldiers ousted Mali's elected government in a March 22 coup stemming from its handling of a Tuareg rebellion in the north. The rebels and Islamist groups now control more than half the country.