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Mali president 'safe', ECOWAS seeks to end coup

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-03-29

Members of the regional West African group ECOWAS are meeting in the Malian capital of Bamako Thursday in an effort to end the recent military coup, one day after Mali president Amadou Toumani Toure told Radio France Internationale he was safe.

In his first interview since a March 22 coup d’état ousted him from power, Mali’s President Amadou Touré told French broadcaster Radio France Internationale (RFI) on Wednesday that he was free and unharmed in the capital Bamako as leaders of a West African regional body were meeting Thursday to try to seek the end of the coup.

The delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led by Blaise Compaore, president of Burkina Faso, are expected to arrive in Bamako Thursday to negotiate with coup leader, Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo.

Thursday’s ECOWAS meeting came as thousands of people took to the streets of Bamako Wednesday in support of last week’s coup and to protest what they called the interference of Mali’s neighbours in the West African nation’s internal affairs.

Touré was ousted from power just five weeks before the end of his term in office ahead of elections on April 29, which the junta has since suspended with no fresh poll date fixed.

In an interview with RFI, Touré maintained that he was not a prisoner of the junta, I free in my country... but the most important thing is not about my well-being. I am two months away from the end of my mandate. I think the most important thing today... is to find a way out of the crisis.”

‘The entire day under rocket fire’

Touré, who has been president of Mali for the last decade, was usurped last week by a military junta calling itself the National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDRE), which accuses him of failing to halt a Touareg uprising the north of the country.

"I spent the entire day under rocket fire, rockets launched by tanks and soldiers,” he said in the interview. “All kinds of rockets were launched on my office, my home, and my family. According to an eyewitness, there is nothing left. It is completely burnt."

The international community has been unanimous in its condemnation of the CNRDRE coup, while the ECOWAS has temporarily suspended Mali in an emergency summit on Tuesday.

Ecowas leaders said they were looking at “all options” to restore order in the country. A peacekeeping unit has been put on standby in case the country's military junta refuses to stand down.

In his interview with RFI, Touré said he is aware of the regional and international responses to the March 22 coup.

“I have been following the ECOWAS summit with interest,” Touré told RFI. “"I completely agree with the proposal made by the African heads of state in order to get our country out of this crisis."

Touré refused to say whether he still considers himself president of the country, but said he was “open to any solution that could restore peace in our country and preserve democracy in Mali."


Date created : 2012-03-29

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