By David Lewis and Tiemoko Diallo
BAMAKO (Reuters) – Renegade Malian soldiers declared on state television on Thursday they had seized power in the West African state in protest at the government’s failure to quell a nomad-led rebellion in the north.
Former colonial power France said it was suspending security cooperation with Mali and urged constitutional order to be reestablished promptly, a call echoed by the European Union.
The coup has been fronted by soldiers of the rank of captain or lower and, if successful, will add a new layer of insecurity to a Saharan region battling al Qaeda agents and a flood of weapons trafficked from Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
The army has for weeks appealed to the government for better weapons to fight the northern Tuareg rebels, now bolstered by heavily armed ethnic allies who fought on Gaddafi’s side last year but have returned to Mali.
Members of the newly formed National Committee for the Return of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR) read a statement after heavy weapons fire rang out around the presidential palace in the capital Bamako throughout the night.
“The CNRDR … has decided to assume its responsibilities by putting an end to the incompetent regime of Amadou Toumani Toure,” said Lieutenant Amadou Konare, spokesman for the CNRDR. Read more…