Mob assaults Mali's president, calling peace deal into question
Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, has been taken to the hospital, unconscious, after pro-military junta protesters broke into the presidential palace. Will a ECOWAS peace deal hold?
Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, has been taken to the hospital, unconscious, after mobs of protesters broke into the presidential palace today.Skip to next paragraph
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The protesters were supporters of the military junta that has ruled Mali since a March 22 coup. Protesters at the scene voiced support for the military junta, but not with the interim president chosen by the junta.
The injury of President Traore could complicate a deal worked out over the weekend between West African leaders and the head of the military junta, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, who named Mr. Traore interim president until elections can be held. The West African bloc, ECOWAS, which led the negotiations, has raised the possibility of military intervention, and has already approved 1,500 troops to restore order in Bamako and contain an ethnic rebellion in Mali’s north that has effectively carved out a Tuareg-majority independent country by force.
Military spokesman Bakary Mariko told Reuters that the protesters broke into the presidential palace and assaulted acting President Traore.
"They beat him seriously and tore his clothes," Mr. Mariko said. "This is a spontaneous crowd. There were three dead and some injured by gunshot amongst the demonstrators. Dioncounda's security shot at people.”
While it’s hard to gauge how broadly the March 22 coup was supported, today's attacks on Traore do show some measure of support for the military junta, and they cast doubt on West African-backed plans for a transition of power from the current interim government, following future elections. Protesters who broke into the palace were heard chanting "We don't want Dioncounda" and "Down with ECOWAS."
"The arrangements made by ECOWAS don't involve Malians. It is a betrayal," Agence France Presse news agency quoted Hamadoun Amion Guindo of the Committee of Malian Patriotic Organizations (COPAM), a pro-coup group.