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US Joins Condemnation of Mali Coup

Renegade Malian soldiers appear on television at the ORTM television studio in Bamako in this March 22, 2012. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS.
Renegade Malian soldiers appear on television at the ORTM television studio in Bamako in this March 22, 2012. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS.

The United States is considering a cutoff in non-humanitarian aid to Mali after the apparent overthrow of Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure by mutinous soldiers.

The U.S. State Department says federal agencies will meet Thursday to discuss the future of about $140 million in economic, security, and anti-terrorism funding. Humanitarian aid would not be affected.

Earlier, the White House joined the African Union, European Union and other world institutions in condemning the takeover.

A group of soldiers declared a coup d'etat on Malian TV Thursday, after seizing control of state broadcasting services and the presidential palace.

The soldiers say they acted because of the president's incompetence in fighting a rebellion by ethnic Tuaregs in Mali's north.

The chairman of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, released a statement strongly condemning the rebellion and saying it has "no justification whatsoever."

The European Union is calling for constitutional rule to be re-established as soon as possible. Former colonial power France said it is suspending cooperation with Mali, while urging that Toure not be harmed.

The president's whereabouts are not clear, though some media reports say he is being protected by his presidential guard at an army camp.

The U.S. embassy released a statement saying Toure is not there or at any other U.S. government residence.

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Leanne Cannon, the embassy's assistant public affairs officer, told VOA that the capital, Bamako, was largely quiet by Thursday evening but that sporadic gunfire could still be heard.

The apparent coup took place just a few weeks before the president was due to step down at the end of his second term. Mali is due to hold elections next month.

Soldiers and their families had expressed increasing frustration with the president and what they considered a lack of weapons to fight the Taureg rebels. The rebels have taken over several towns in the north and the fighting has forced tens of thousands of Malians to flee their homes.

The coup leaders announced Thursday they were closing the country's borders, had suspended the constitution and created a new committee to rule the country.

Kasim Traore, a VOA reporter in the capital, Bamako, said the soldiers pledged to hold elections once national unity is restored and territorial integrity is re-established.

"The long night has ended with a group of soldiers making a declaration on national television - the national television station that was occupied by soldiers Wednesday morning - and they declared they had ended the regime of Amadou Toumani Toure, and put in place the 'National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of State,' following an attack at the presidential palace and following the protest at the Kati military camp, directed by Captain Amadou Aya Sanogo. The captain told the population to stay calm, and said the committee does not have any ambitions to hold on to power," said Traore.

Tuareg separatists started attacking army bases in Mali's desert in January, after many Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they had assisted ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The United Nations refugee agency says the conflict has uprooted 130,000 people in and around Mali. Many soldiers have died in the conflict.

Tuareg nomads have launched periodic uprisings for greater autonomy in both Mali and Niger.

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by: Kwame
March 22, 2012 1:55 PM
U.S. and her allies, please rewind and go back to your archieves, especially to the mid-sixties and read for yourselves what you were saying about coups which you instigated against progressive governments in Africa, Now you are urging African nations to interfere in the affairs of their neighbours. What a shame! Truly, the evil that men do lives after them forever.

by: Aaron
March 22, 2012 1:44 PM
The proud nation of Mali must guard against ethnic reprisals in light of the recent upheavals. All groups must sit and consult on how to achieve true stability and move forward w/o certain "outsiders" trying to take advantage.
Regardless of skin color, Malians are one. Don't fall prey to "The Great Myth of Differences Based on Skin Color"!!

by: nyamwange dennis
March 22, 2012 12:43 PM
it is unfortunate for this kind of solution happens in africa if at all it is a solution to the sufferings of the people of africa. "war has no eyes!"

by: abdulai bah
March 22, 2012 12:06 PM
As one of the few bright spots in Africa Mali is now slipping into chaos and anarchy. Hopefully the rest of the military will understand they stand to gain more in a peaceful and democratic Mali. Wish the the people of Mali good luck.

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