BAMAKO/DAKAR, 3 April 2012 (IRIN) – Malians in the northern towns of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu are hiding in their homes in fear following the weekend takeover by rebel groups, during which hospitals, health clinics, government buildings, and most NGO and UN offices and warehouses were looted, and in some cases destroyed, leaving the bulk of humanitarian operations suspended.
After decades of failed Tuareg secessionist rebellions, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) has suddenly taken over most of northern Mali – with significant help from the Islamist group Ansar Dine – a barreling advance that culminated in the capture of Timbuktu on 1 April.
Issa Mahamar Touré, president of the youth association in Gao, said total chaos reigned after widespread looting of government offices, NGOs, banks and hospitals in his town. “People are hiding at their homes unable to leave…no trucks are arriving with further supplies…what will we do when our stocks run out? The hospital is closed and doctors have fled…It is complete desolation, despair…We can only turn to the international community for help.”
Ansar Dine has claimed control of Timbuktu where they say they will impose Islamic sharia law, banning alcohol as well as Western clothes and music. Several residents told IRIN they wanted them out.
“We are against this takeover,” said Amouhani Touré, a teacher who had just fled the town. “These Islamists want to impose their rules on us…we’re in the 21st century, you can’t impose sharia [law] on peaceful citizens. The authorities, if we have any still, must fight these Islamists with all their might…Timbuktu is a holy site, a tourist town; UNESCO-protected, we will say no to all forms of separatism.” Read more…
The fighting in northern Mali could damage the World Heritage Site of Timbuktu, the UN’s cultural agency Unesco has warned.
Timbuktu’s “outstanding architectural wonders” must be safeguarded, Unesco head Irina Bokova said in a statement.
The historic town was seized on Sunday – but there are conflicting reports as to whether Islamist or separatist Tuareg rebels are in control.
West African states have imposed sanctions on Mali after a recent coup.
Correspondents say long lines have formed at petrol stations in the capital, Bamako, shortly after the embargo was announced on Monday.
The junta of Capt Amadou Sanogo overthrew Mali’s government nearly two weeks ago, saying the campaign against the recent Tuareg rebellion, had been poorly run.
But the Tuareg rebels have taken advantage of the political situation and made rapid advances in the past few days.
They are now in control of a third of the West African country, including the key towns of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.
he rebels are divided into two groups – one fighting for independence for the northern Tuareg homelands and another linked to the North African branch of al-Qaeda.
There are some reports that the Islamist fighters have raised their black flag over Timbuktu.Read more…
West African states are to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions on Mali immediately, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has announced.
Regional body Ecowas had given the leaders of the country’s military coup until Monday to step down.
Tuareg rebels took advantage of the political situation to seize the whole of the north over the weekend.
Correspondents say the poor, landlocked country would struggle to survive an economic blockade.
DAKAR (Reuters) – Leaders of the 15-state West African bloc ECOWAS have decided to impose diplomatic, trade and financial sanctions on Mali’s junta with immediate effect, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said after a regional summit on Monday.
Ouattara told reporters the leaders would apply the previously announced sanctions – which include a crippling closure of the land-locked country’s borders – to put pressure on leaders of last month’s coup to return power to civilians.
“All the diplomatic, economic, financial and other measures will be applied from today and will remain in place until constitutional order is re-established,” Ouattara said after the talks in the Senegalese capital Dakar. Read more…
The Authorities of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have asked member states with common boundaries with Mali to close their borders and seaports if the Malian coup leaders refused to restore constitutional order in the country.
ECOWAS’s directive on further sanctions on the military junta and Mali was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of an emergency mini-summit of its Heads of States and Government in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on the Malian crisis which was assuming new dimensions with the capture of a key northern town in the country by the Taureg rebels on Thursday.
The communiqué which was made available by the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja stated that the renewed directive on further sanctions would take effect from tomorrow if the Malian junta refused to facilitate the immediate restoration of constitutional order in the country.
The statement read in parts: “In fulfilment of its mission, the delegation set out for Bamako today, 29 March 2012, but could not land at the Bamako airport for security reasons as a result of chaos provoked by demonstrators at the airport. The Heads of State, therefore, returned to Abidjan to hold an emergency meeting.
“The Heads of State took note of the reports of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, the Foreign Ministers, and the Chiefs of Defence Staff, who had just returned from Bamako after their meetings with the Comité National de Redressement pour la Démocratie et la Restauration de l‘Etat (CNRDRE).”
The communiqué further explained that the regional economic bloc had decided to impose strict economic, political, diplomatic and financial sanctions on Mali.
“In application of these decisions, and after consultation and accord of all ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, Authority hereby adopts the following sanctions against Mali: Suspend the membership of Mali from ECOWAS, recall all ECOWAS ambassadors accredited to the Republic of Mali for consultation, impose a travel ban on members of the CNRDRE and their associates within the ECOWAS space, close all borders of ECOWAS member states with Mali, except for humanitarian purposes. Read more…
Mail and Guardian
The US has “paused” military aid to Mali, a key ally against Islamist militants in the Sahel, a US diplomat said on Monday, in a move that could hamper efforts to curb al-Qaeda’s North African wing.
The Malian president, Amadou Touré, who was forced out of power in a coup last week, was seen as a linchpin in the fight against Islamist groups including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has expanded southwards into Mali after a successful clampdown by the government in its native Algeria.
Western governments are wary of dealing with mutinous middle-ranking army officials led by Amadou Sanogo, who maintains a tenuous grip on power and faces a resurgent, decades-old independence movement with links to AQIM.
“At the moment, any military aid has been paused,” said a spokesperson for the US embassy in Bamako, adding that the move was temporary.
Military assistance is part of a development package that last year poured $138-million into the impoverished cotton and gold-producing country. It included $600 000 in logistical assistance as well as counter-terrorism training aimed at keeping a check on AQIM. Other European and African nations have suspended humanitarian assistance to the tune of millions of dollars annually. Read more…
Life in the Malian capital Bamako is slowly returning to normal after mutinous soldiers seized power, toppling the democratically elected government of President Ahmed Toumani Toure.
Fuel stations and market stalls reopened on Sunday after a decrease in the gunfire and looting that followed Wednesday’s overnight coup.
The military junta that ousted Toure has ordered all soldiers back to barracks, but rebels in the country’s north exploiting the coup have been pushing towards three northern towns, the Reuters news agency reported.
“Compared to those other days, things are calm. We can get on with our lives a bit,” Bouba Traore, a Bamako resident, said while sipping tea with friends under a tree.
“I’m not sure we can say it is completely normal though. We’ll have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday for that.”
Traffic police returned to busy intersections and workers were back on building sites for the first time in days. Read more…
The leader of this week’s coup in Mali has told the BBC that he has no intention of staying in power.
Capt Amadou Sanogo
Capt Amadou Sanogo said he would stand down after making sure the army, which is fighting ethnic-Tuareg rebels in the north, was able to secure the country.
He also said former leaders would be transferred to the justice system, but the president is not believed to be in the custody of the mutineers.
Meanwhile, the African Union has suspended Mali from the organisation.
“[The] council decided Mali should be suspended from further participation in all its activities until effective restoration of constitutional order is achieved without delay,” Paul Lolo, chairman of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, said.
‘Comrades are dying’
A government official told the BBC on Thursday that President Amadou Toumani Toure was safe, but his exact whereabouts are still unknown, two days after he was deposed.
There are unconfirmed reports that he is in a military barracks in the capital, Bamako, being protected by members his elite presidential guard. Read more…
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…
By David Lewis and Tiemoko Diallo
BAMAKO (Reuters) – Renegade Malian soldiers went on state television on Thursday to declare they had seized power in a coup after the government’s failure to quell a nomad-led rebellion in the north.
The soldiers of the newly formed National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR) read out a brief 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 Amadou Konare, spokesman for the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR).
“We promise to hand power back to a democratically elected president as soon as the country is reunified and its integrity is no longer threatened,” said Konare, flanked by about two dozen soldiers. A subsequent statement declared an immediate curfew “until further notice”. Read more…