Mali rulers strive to restore calm
02 May 2012, 18:33
Bamako - Mali's rulers sought to restore calm on Wednesday after
pro-junta soldiers stamped out a counter-coup bid by the presidential
guard, sparking clashes in the capital that left at least 22 dead.
head of the military junta that seized power on 22 March, Captain
Amadou Haya Sanogo, assured the situation was "under control" after an
offensive described as an attempt on his life.
late on Monday at the national television and radio station, the airport
and at Kati, the garrison town near the capital that is the junta's
The fighting, which continued on Tuesday, was
initiated by presidential guardsmen loyal to ex-president Amadou Toumani
Toure, who was ousted by Sanogo in the coup last month.
to reassure the population. I am doing fine. The Committee [junta] is
doing fine," Sanogo said in an interview late on Tuesday with the
national television and radio station (ORTM).
He termed the
clashes "an internal matter that was being managed", and vowed the 06
April deal he signed with west African mediators restoring civilian rule
remained in force.
The objective of the assault on the junta's
positions in Kati was "the assassination of military chiefs and
particularly" Sanogo, Ibrahim Dahirou Dembele, the junta's army chief of
staff, told ORTM.
The fighting claimed 22 lives, said hospital sources, who had previously put the toll at 14 dead and 40 injured.
gunfire was heard in Bamako overnight on Tuesday, but by Wednesday
morning calm had been restored, with junta loyalists controlling key
points in the capital, an AFP reporter observed.
The 15km road to Kati was also peaceful.
spokesperson for the transitional government, Hamadoun Toure, said on
Tuesday that "all appropriate measures" would be taken to restore
A message attributed to Sanogo broadcast on Monday
blamed the violence on "foreign elements backed by dark forces from
inside the country" but the resurgence of fighting underlined the
volatility of Mali's political scene.
The bow-tie-shaped west
African nation has a new interim president and prime minister mandated
with organising fresh elections, but the assault by Toure's loyalists
dimmed hopes for a quick return to order.
Tuareg and Islamist
rebels have taken advantage of the political chaos by capturing the
entire desert north, an area the size of France.
nations from the regional bloc Ecowas have weighed sending in troops to
push the rebels out, fearing northern Mali could become a haven for
Under diplomatic pressure from Ecowas and other
partners, Mali's junta agreed to hand power over to Dioncounda Traore,
the former parliament speaker, who was sworn in on 12 April.
the new civilian leaders have struggled to contend with the junta,
which, though not technically in power, has remained a political player
that has made its influence felt.
Sanogo on Saturday rejected a
plan by Economic Community of West African States leaders to send in a
stabilisation force and also nixed their demand for elections in Mali
within 12 months.
A meeting that had been planned for Tuesday
between an Ecowas mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, and a
delegation of the former junta was cancelled, a source close to the