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Confusion reigns in wake of Mali coup d’etat

Latest update : 2012-03-25

The streets of Bamako were deserted Sunday in the wake of the coup d’etat. The coup leader said on state TV that the putschists were in control, but some soldiers were still looting and firing off volleys in the capital, terrifying residents.

AFP - Bamako's main market was a shadow of its normal bustling self, shops were shuttered and people preferred to stay home days after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was ousted in a coup.

"People are scared to go out," said schoolgirl Kady Kante, admitting with a nervous laugh that she too was a bit scared to leave her home but did not want to miss out on a shopping trip with a friend.

African Union suspends Mali

REUTERS - The African Union said on Friday it had suspended Mali's membership after mutinous soldiers staged a coup against President Amadou Toumani Toure this week.

"(The) council decided Mali should be suspended from further participation in all its activities until effective restoration of constitutional order is achieved without delay," Paul Lolo, chairman of the African Union's Peace and Security Council, said.

Kady, trying out necklaces at one of the few open stalls to the sound of the local Mandingo music, was wearing a shirt printed in 2010 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the west African country's independence.

But on Thursday, troops angry with the government's handling of the fight against Tuareg rebels in the north seized government buildings and forced Toure to flee.

Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo insisted on state television that the putschists were in control of the situation, but some soldiers were still looting and firing off volleys in the capital, terrifying residents.

Bamako's streets were largely deserted, thanks in part to dwindling petrol supplies.

Becaye Soukoule, a trader in his late 20s, chatted with friends at the market but was not ready to open his spare parts shop. "We're scared that they will come and steal things," he said.

The coup leaders also issued a statement Saturday calling on soldiers to return to barracks and reminding unit commanders they were responsible for their men.

With petrol running short, soldiers urged filling station owners to open up for business.

But many local people were still too shaken by the breakdown in law and order that followed the coup as soldiers -- and other opportunists -- took advantage of the confusion.

Dramane Drago decided to open his hardware store Saturday only to find that the customers were not coming. Summing up the atmosphere, the 50-year-old trader said: "It's calm and it's precarious."

That precariousness was most keenly felt at sites where soldiers were still controlling access: the state television station ORTM and the main roads in and out of the capital.

The banks were closed, and any business to be done in the city would have to be completed before 6:00 pm because of a dusk-to-dawn curfew announced by the army.

"Yesterday (Friday) there was shooting," said Ibrahima Diallo, who had come to visit relatives in the working-class district of Bagadadji, in the centre of Bamako near the market and the city's main mosque.

But Diallo's main concern was how to get petrol for his moped.

With most stations still closed, black market sellers were making a killing, selling the petrol for more than double its normal price, he said.

For Diallo, a young man looking for work, that was too steep for him.

Some stations were beginning to reopen Saturday under guard by soldiers, and 20 bikers could be seen queued up at one of them.

But the station worker made it clear that stocking up would be difficult. "The reserves here, it's all we've got," he said.

Another employee confided that other filling stations had decided to stay closed because they had been robbed by soldiers.

The new military rulers have called on people to return to work on Tuesday.

Kady, for one, hopes it will be business as usual at the market by then. "Tuesday, inch'Allah (God willing)," she said.


Date created : 2012-03-25

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