Mali: Junta 'Regains Control' After Counter-Coup

 
on May 01 2012 9:24 AM
Mali Countercoup, March 29, 2012.
Malian soldiers stand guard at the international airport of the capital city Bamako on March 29. Reuters

Mali's military junta has regained control after an attempted counter-coup, according to reports on state television.

The controlling militia issued a statement on Tuesday saying they were in control of key sites around the capital Bamako. including the state broadcasting building, the airport, and a major military base in Kati, according to Reuters.

The announcement came after fighting erupted in the Bamako on Monday when army units, reportedly loyal to the ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure, began deploying on the streets.

Coup leaders dismissed the reports, however, claiming the fighters were foreign nationals supported by forces from within Mali.

Elements from abroad, supported by some obscure forces within the country, carried out these attacks. Some of them have been arrested, a junta officer said in the television message, Reuters reported.

After months of violence, a military junta overthrew the government of Mali in March, claiming that president Toure had failed to properly equip the army with the means to combat a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

The military said they were acting to defend the country from the Tuaregs -- a nomadic tribe who also fought as mercenaries for former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi -- who with the help of the radical Islamist group Ansar Dine had seized three northern regions. Tuaregs, who are seeking independence, now control large swathes of the country's northern regions.

Mali returned to constitutional rule on April 12, when parliamentary speaker Dioncounda Traore was sworn in as interim president.

Alarmed at the situation in Mali, and a subsequent coup in Guinea-Bissau, the African regional body ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) said last week it would send troops to both countries to try to pressure their new juntas to reinstate civilian rule.

ECOWAS said last Thursday that a force of up to 3,000 soldiers will be deployed immediately to Mali, and another 500 to 600 will be sent to Guinea-Bissau, according to the Angola Press.

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