News / Africa

Hundreds of Malians Protest Extension of Interim Government

Protesters occupy Mali's presidential palace in the capital Bamako, May 21, 2012.
Protesters occupy Mali's presidential palace in the capital Bamako, May 21, 2012.
Anne Look
BAMAKO - Hundreds of Malians took to the streets Monday to protest an agreement just signed between West African mediators and the leader of this March's military coup that keeps an interim civilian president in place for one year, to organize elections.  A mob forced its way into the presidential palace and attacked the interim president, who is being treated for injuries. 

Hundreds of protestors forced their way into the office of Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, Monday, demanding he resign.  

The president's chief of staff, Souleymane Niafo, says that the mob beat up the president.  Niafo said Traore is now being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Protestors showed a VOA reporter pieces of fabric they claimed to have ripped from Traore's jacket.

Many of the protestors had marched to the palace from a large gathering outside a conference center where the Coalition of Malian Patriotic Organizations, known as COPAM, was meeting inside to select its own interim president, expected to be announced Tuesday.

"Down with ECOWAS.  ECOWAS cannot choose Mali's president," protesters shouted, growing increasingly heated at the sight of a Western journalist.

A few held small signs that read "Mali is a sovereign nation. Let us decide."

Protesters used blue metal chairs and hunks of rock to barricade intersections in the blocks surrounding the conference center.

Meeting inside were political, labor and civil society leaders opposed to the deal struck between junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo and West African regional bloc ECOWAS.

A leader of COPAM, politician Ahmed Ag Akeratane, says they supported the National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State, or CNRDRE, as the junta is known.  He says the CNRDRE may have signed an agreement with ECOWAS but that doesn't concern them.  He says ECOWAS is not going to come and tell them how to run their country.

Monday marks two months since an army mutiny spiraled into an impromptu military coup.  Soldiers, calling themselves the CNRDRE, ousted the nation's elected leader less than a month before a presidential election.

Many in Mali cheered the coup back in late March. The event seemed to open the floodgates on a deep-seated frustration and distrust of the political elite that some say had long been seething beneath Mali's democratic veneer.

Since then, ECOWAS has pushed hard for a return to civilian rule.

Sunday's agreement says interim President Diouncounda Traore will remain in charge of the transition. It recognizes Captain Sanogo as a former head of state, complete with all the accompanying status and privileges.

Interim president Traore is viewed by some as an ally of ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure.

Traore's 40-day interim mandate, as prescribed by the constitution, was set to expire Tuesday.

Captain Sanogo had proposed a national convention be held to select a new leader for the transition. He bowed this weekend to ECOWAS demands that Traore stay in place.

However, despite protests, not everyone is opposed the agreement.

In a busy market in downtown Bamako, vendors said they are eager to see life, and business, to get back to normal.  Many pointed to the security crisis in the north, where armed groups now control two-thirds of the nation's territory.

Djibril Maiga says instead of continuing to bicker about politics here in Bamako, they first need to save the north.  However, he says he does not support foreign troops coming in to help.  He says the problem should be left to the Malian army.

Armed groups in the north took advantage of the chaos in the days following the coup to quickly push south, effectively cutting the country in half.

Tuareg separatists have declared an independent state, while Islamist militants have rejected independence and begun imposing Sharia law in northern towns.  Tens of thousands of Malians have fled the region.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More