Malian coup leader Sanogo promoted to general
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Captain Amadou Sanogo, who led a coup that overthrew president Amadou Toumani Touré in March 2012, has been promoted to four-star general, Mali's army said Wednesday. Sanogo remains influential despite a return to civilian leadership last year.
Mali’s outgoing interim president has promoted to the rank of general an army captain who led a coup last year that plunged the West African nation into crisis and allowed al Qaeda-linked fighters to seize the desert north, an army spokesman said.
The surprise decision, which was criticised by rights groups, comes just days after the West African nation held a critical election to choose a new president and draw a line under more than a year of political turmoil and war.
Captain Amadou Aya Sanogo has maintained influence despite officially handing power back to civilian leadership last year, and the move appeared set to bolster his position as Mali attempts to re-establish a democratically elected government.
“I confirm that Captain Sanogo was proclaimed a four-star general ... (The nomination) was signed this morning by the president of the republic,” spokesman Captain Modibo Naman Traore said on Wednesday.
Colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, another former junta member who serves as minister of territorial administration in Mali’s interim government was promoted to the rank of brigadier general.
Once portrayed as a model democracy, Mali imploded last year when the junta, frustrated by a lack of progress in tackling a Tuareg rebellion in the north, toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure.
The Tuareg rebels and their Islamist allies seized upon the turmoil in the capital Bamako to launch a rapid advance, capturing two-thirds of the country.
The al Qaeda-linked fighters were finally defeated following the intervention of thousands of French soldiers in January.
Malians elected former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in a presidential runoff on Sunday. But interim leader Dioncounda Traore - who was appointed to head a caretaker administration meant to prepare the polls - signed the order promoting Sanogo.
The decision outraged Human Rights Watch which, along with other campaigners, accused the junta of widespread human rights violations.
“This promotion is truly outrageous,” said Corinne Dufka who investigated the abuses for HRW.
“Instead of being rewarded for his behaviour, Sanogo should have been investigated for his involvement in very serious abuses committed over the last 18 months including arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances,” she said.