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Mali coup leaders close all borders ‘until further notice’

BAMAKO, March 22, 2012 (AFP) – A Malian junta announced Thursday the closure of the country’s borders after claiming to have seized power from President Amadou Toumani Toure in a coup in the early hours of the morning.
“We have closed all the borders until further notice,” Sergeant Salif Kone said in a statement on state television, surrounded by the band of mutineers who have formed a junta calling itself the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy.
A source at the airport had earlier confirmed the closure of the airport, saying all flights to and from Mali had been cancelled in the wake of the coup.
Condemnation poured in from around Africa and abroad over the ouster of President Amadou Toumani Toure, who had just over a month left in power before a scheduled election on April 29.
The African Union Commission chief Jean Ping urged “the mutineers immediately to put an end” to the country’s first coup in 21 years, while continental powerhouse South Africa condemned the seizure of “power through the use of force.”
Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula was among African foreign ministers stranded in the country after attending an African Union meeting on peace and security.
International condemnation was swift with France suspending cooperation with its former colony while the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation expressed “extreme shock” at the coup in a country which had achieved democratic success in recent years.
The junta has also called all civil servants to return to work on March 27.
“Any unjustified absence will be seen as an abandonment of the post,” spokesman Lieutenant Amadou Konare said.
He added that the secretary generals of government’s ministries were charged with “handling current affairs until a new government is put in place.”


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