Mali coup sparks broad international condemnation

March 23, 2012 6:04 am

, ADDIS ABABA, Mar 23 – A military coup in Mali on Thursday sparked wide international condemnation and calls for reinstatement of the elected government of President Amadou Tomani Toure.

The African Union, the European Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and individual countries in Africa and elsewhere deplored Toure’s ousting five weeks ahead of planned elections.

Rebel soldiers calling themselves the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy seized control of the capital overnight because of the government’s “inability” to tackle terrorism and put down a Tuareg-led insurrection in the north.

On Thursday, the junta said it was closing all of the country’s borders, apparently stranding Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula and other senior foreign officials who were in Bamako for an African Union meeting on peace and security.

“The chairperson of the (AU) Commission strongly condemns this act of rebellion, which seriously undermines constitutional legality and constitutes a significant setback for Mali,” the pan-African body said in a statement.

Commission chief Jean Ping urged “the mutineers immediately to put an end to their action.”

“This rebellion has no justification whatsoever, more so given the existence, in Mali, of democratic institutions which provide a framework for free expression and for addressing any legitimate claims,” he said.

The soldiers fought their way into the presidential palace and forced Toure to flee, claiming on television to have ousted an “incompetent regime” and dissolved state institutions.

France, the former colonial power, said it was suspending cooperation with the West African desert nation and urged the rebels not to harm Toure.

“We demand the return to the constitutional order, elections; they had been programmed for April, they must take place as soon as possible to allow the Malian people to express themselves,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said, “I condemn the apparent coup d’etat in Bamako and the suspension of the republican institutions of Mali.”

“I call for the reestablishment of the constitutional order and the holding of democratic elections as soon as possible,” she said.

“In this crucial period for Mali, marked by a rebellion in the North, I call on all parties to show responsibility to ensure respect for human life, fundamental freedoms and the integrity of the country,” Ashton added.

“The United States strongly condemns the violence initiated by elements of the armed forces of Mali,” the White House said in a statement.

“We stand with the legitimately elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure. Mali is a leading democracy in West Africa and its institutions must be respected,” the US State Department added.

The OIC’s chief, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, expressed “extreme shock” at the coup and called on the rebels “to respect democracy and enable the Malian people… to express its free will,” according to a statement.

South Africa closed its embassy in Bamako, saying it “condemns any attempt to seize power through the use of force.”

“We reiterate our conviction that no party should come to power through unlawful means,” a foreign ministry statement said.

“It is our desire that the mutiny is addressed in a manner that does not jeopardise the overall security situation in Mali. This is particularly important in view of the security challenges in the north,” it added.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan called the coup “an apparent setback to the consolidation of democracy” and urged reinstatement of the deposed government.

He also asked the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the AU and the international community not to recognise the military usurpers.

“The coup plotters have only embarked on a fruitless mission of supplanting a constitutional government by other means which goes against the current global grain of constitutionalism,” he said.

ECOWAS said it “strongly condemns the misguided actions of the mutineers and warns that it will not condone any recourse to violence as a means of seeking redress.”

The bloc said it had followed with “dismay and mounting concern” events in Bamako, calling the action “all the more reprehensible” coming amid regional and international peace efforts to end the Tuareg-led rebellion in the north of the country.

Algeria, which shares a long desert border with landlocked Mali, was monitoring the situation “with great concern,” foreign ministry spokesman Amar Belani told the APS news agency.

Algeria had recently strived to improve relations with its neighbour in an effort to combat Al-Qaeda’s north African branch, which has stepped up attacks and kidnappings in recent months.


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