News

Malians Denounce Arrests by Junta

Dioncounda Traore (L), the new interim leader talks with Cheick Mohamed Abdoulaye Souad, aka Modibo Diarra, new prime minister, in Koulouba. Mali's former junta arrested two more politicians as the new interim prime minister weighs the make-up of a unity
Dioncounda Traore (L), the new interim leader talks with Cheick Mohamed Abdoulaye Souad, aka Modibo Diarra, new prime minister, in Koulouba. Mali's former junta arrested two more politicians as the new interim prime minister weighs the make-up of a unity
Nancy Palus

Malians are protesting the arrest of several leading political and military figures by the junta that is supposed to be stepping aside for civilian leaders.  The junta -- still very prominent despite an ongoing process to restore civilian rule -- has yet to provide a precise reason for the arrests.  A sit-in protest was held at the same hotel where the interim president is staying.

When officials with Mali’s interim leader Dioncounda Traoré came out to hear demonstrators, people shouted: “There is no more junta” and “There is just one president.”

Assembled outside the hotel where Traoré continues to stay since his April 12th inauguration, members of political parties' youth organizations shouted “Liberate, liberate” and held signs saying, “Military to the front lines, power to civilians.”  Scores of soldiers and riot police stood nearby.

Malians say they are shocked and outraged at Tuesday’s pre-dawn arrests of at least seven people, including former prime ministers Modibo Sidibé and Soumaïla Cissé, deposed defense minister Sadio Gassama, as well as bank executives and the head of police.

They were seized at their homes by armed soldiers and reportedly taken to Kati, the garrison town outside Bamako and the junta’s headquarters since the March 22nd coup.

For some of the detained this is their second arrest since the coup.  The junta recently released a number of ministers and others it had arrested the day it took power.

President Traoré’s chief of staff, Dicko Moustapha, told demonstrators he would deliver their declaration to the interim leader.

He says Traoré condemns the arrests.  Naturally, he says, the president condemns anything that deviates from the rule of law.

Dicko said he doesn’t know the motivation behind the arrests.

The junta released a communiqué on Tuesday night, providing no precise reason for the detentions, and saying that the cases would be investigated by the proper authorities.

Malians denouncing the junta’s actions say these are not arrests but rather “kidnappings,” meant to create an atmosphere of terror and to intimidate political leaders as Mali charts a return to constitutional order.

On Tuesday, Mali named a consensus prime minister, 60-year-old NASA astronaut Cheikh Modibo Diarra.  A framework agreement between the junta and the regional bloc ECOWAS calls for a return to civilian rule, but is vague on the future role of the junta.  Coup leader Amadou Sanogo has said in public statements that he retains a role in overseeing the transition.

ECOWAS political director Abdel Fatau Musah told VOA the arrests are against the principles of the transition.  He said the role of the junta would be discussed at a special ECOWAS meeting April 26.

Leaders of a political coalition that opposes the coup talked to reporters on Tuesday, after visiting Kati.  They said they were not allowed to visit those detained.  They said they are particularly concerned about Soumaïla Cissé, who was injured the night of his arrest.

Lawyer Hamidou Diabaté said the arrests make no sense whatsoever.

He says, now that the country is embarking on a return to constitutional order, the rule of law must stand.  He says there are proper legal procedures for arrests and detentions, and that these extra-judicial arrests make no sense unless they are aimed at creating a climate of terror.

The coup leaders say they seized power because the government had not equipped the army to fight Tuareg rebels in the north.  Since the coup, the rebels and Islamic militants have seized Mali's three northern regions and declared an independent state, which the international community has refused to recognize.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Brian
April 18, 2012 11:35 AM
I thought the junta had handed over to the head of the National Assembly?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs