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Mali Coalitions Compete for Government Control

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.
BAMAKO - A Malian political coalition opposed to the March 22 coup is calling for those behind Monday's attack on the nation's interim civilian president, Diouncounda Traore, to be held accountable. Meanwhile, a pro-junta coalition continues to call for Traore's resignation.

Mali's post-coup political transition remains unsettled.

The interim leader has not been seen in public since being released from the hospital where he was treated for what his staff said were non-life-threatening head wounds.

Mediators from West African regional bloc ECOWAS signed a deal Sunday with coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to extend Traore's mandate for one year to organize elections.

But hundreds protested that agreement Monday. They stormed the presidential palace and beat up the 70-year-old interim leader. Many suspect the involvement of pro-junta soldiers.

The attack has sparked condemnation all around.

Kassoum Tapo is spokesman for Mali's anti-coup political coalition, the FDR. He condemned what he called the "passive complicity" of security forces who allowed the unarmed mob into the palace.

Tapo says they are calling for the National Assembly to investigate the circumstances of this "assassination attempt" and demand the resignations of ministers concerned in this affair. He says the interim government should call for assistance from ECOWAS and the international community to secure the transition and help the army in reclaiming territory under rebel control in the North.

ECOWAS has offered to deploy 3,000 regional peacekeepers to Mali. ECOWAS condemned Monday's attack and threatened sanctions against those found to be responsible.

The interim government and ECOWAS say they are investigating the incident.

The FDR says it is organizing a march to show support for Mr. Traore. Malians, even those opposed to Traore, expressed shock and disgust at the physical assault on the president.

Monday's protests began outside a meeting of the pro-junta political coalition, COPAM. Members of COPAM said that the coalition has chosen Captain Sanogo to replace Traore as head of the transition.

But no official announcement has been made. A public meeting planned for Wednesday was canceled at the last minute for "security reasons."

COPAM vice president, Younousi Hamey Dicko, told VOA late Wednesday that COPAM will not publicly declare a new interim leader. He says COPAM has decided to keep meeting to push for Mr. Traore's resignation. He says that is their mission.

The deal Captain Sanogo signed with ECOWAS conferred on him the status of a former head of state, complete with a monthly pension and other perks.

FDR spokesman Tapo dismissed the idea of COPAM selecting an alternate president as a "non-event."