Loyalist Counter-Coup in Mali Fails

Reports from Mali say rebel troops who toppled the country's democratically-elected president in March have defeated a counter-coup attempt.

Guards loyal to ousted Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure fought with renegade troops in the capital, Bamako, since Monday in an attempt to reverse the coup.  Military coup leader Amadou Sanogo said in a televised statement that his forces remain in control of key positions in the capital.  He also said that a transitional civilian government, put in place after an agreement with neighboring countries, remains unchanged.

"The prime minister stays in place in accordance with the agreement, the president of the republic stays in place in accordance with the agreement, then the government remains and the national assembly remains," said Sanogo. "It has nothing to do [with the counter-coup attempt].  It was an internal problem that we are managing and I think that the government will come back on this with more details."

A spokesman for the transitional government, Hamadoun Toure, called on the people of Mali to remain calm after the violence which left at least 15 people dead.  The red beret presidential guard unit has fought since Monday to restore the government of former president Toure, who was deposed in the March 22 coup.  

Junta officials said Tuesday that the loyalist camp has fallen and the remaining soldiers have fled.  The U.S. embassy in Bamako also said the "counter-effort" by forces loyal to the ousted president appears to have failed.

Renegade officers have accused Toure of failing to properly equip the army to handle a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

The new military government, under pressure from the regional bloc, ECOWAS, later agreed to form a civilian transitional government to organize new elections.

Last week, Mali's interim leaders announced the formation of a new government that gave military officers three government posts - defense, interior security and interior ministries.  The rest of the 24-member government is made up of civilians.

Cheick Traore, the leader of Mali's African Convergence for Renewal party, told VOA that the power struggles in the country have not been good for the Malian people.

"The Malians are very confused since March 22 because in all of this, nobody is asking Malians what they want, nobody is informing them properly and once again today they are very, very confused," said Traore. "They are traumatized, I should say."

Burkina Faso's foreign minister, Djibril Bassole says that no matter who is in charge in Bamako, ECOWAS "will never accept that militaries seize power."  He said a meeting scheduled for Tuesday with junta leaders has been canceled.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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