Malian Politician Calls for Unity After Counter-Coup Fails

By IndepthAfrica
In Mali
May 2nd, 2012
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Malians who back the military coup d'etat, demonstrate in the capital Bamako, March 28, 2012. Thousands of demonstrators chanted pro-junta slogans in Mali's capital on Wednesday, protesting against foreign powers' threats to use sanctions to force the leaders of last week's coup to step down. REUTERS/David Lewis (MALI - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

A prominent politician in Mali has called on elements of the military to unite and focus on the needs of the country, after rebel troops who toppled Mali’s democratically elected president in March defeated a counter-coup attempt.

Niankoro Yeah Samake, leader of the Party for Patriotic and Civic Action, told VOA he is “very disheartened” by what has happened in Mali.

“We call on, first of all, the president of the junta, Captain Amadou Haya [Sanogo], to be the leader of the army, to bring people together as we are working hard with the international community and also the political leaders and civil society in Mali to build a just society to restore democracy for the benefit of the people of Mali.”

Guards loyal to ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure clashed with renegade troops in the capital, Bamako, beginning Monday in an attempt to reverse the March 22 coup.

Junta officials said Tuesday that the loyalist camp had fallen and the remaining soldiers had fled. The U.S. embassy in Bamako also said the “counter-effort” by forces loyal to the ousted president appeared to have failed.

Military coup leader Amadou Sanogo said in a televised statement Tuesday that his forces remain in control of key positions in the capital. He also said that a transitional civilian government, put in place after an agreement with neighboring countries, remains unchanged.

“The prime minister stays in place in accordance with the agreement, the president of the republic stays in place in accordance with the agreement, then the government remains and the national assembly remains. It has nothing to do (with the counter-coup attempt). It was an internal problem that we are managing and I think that the government will come back on this with more details.”

A spokesman for the transitional government, Hamadoun Toure, called on the people of Mali to remain calm after the violence which left at least 15 people dead.

Renegade officers have accused Mr. 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.

Samake told VOA the people of Mali appreciate the help of ECOWAS, but that the solution ultimately must come from within the country.

“Mali needs all its partners, but we need to make sure that this is a Malian solution. We cannot make this solution outside of Mali — that would be an imposition. We don’t want that, it is not going to be a lasting solution.”

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 ministries. The rest of the 24-member government is made up of civilians.

Cheick Traore, the 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.

Burkina Faso’s foreign minister, Djibril Bassole, told VOA that no matter who is in charge in Bamako, ECOWAS “will never accept that militaries seize power.”

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