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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?

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If ECOWAS intends to bring its 1,500 peacekeepers, approved at an April summit meeting, into Mali, they may find a decidedly cold reception from Malian citizens, some of whom view the junta as a welcome respite from the regime of former President Amadou Toumani Toure. Mr. Toure was overthrown by Captain Sanogo’s men, after protests that Toure’s government failed to provide the food and equipment to fight a better armed Tuareg insurgency in the north.

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Mali’s Tuareg population has fought several rebellions in the past two decades, but returning Tuareg fighters armed and trained by the toppled Libyan government of Muammar Qaddafi proved to be too much for Mali’s poorly armed and equipped armed forces. Tuareg rebels, together with an Al Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Dine, have taken effective control of northern Mali, including the historic city of Timbuktu, following the chaos of the March 22 coup.

Over the weekend, Mali’s future seemed to have been stabilized, as ECOWAS leaders reached an agreement with the military junta, accepting Traore’s interim government until elections were held in 12 months time.

"I can tell you that a deal has been reached in principle," Captain Sanogo told state television late on SaturdayReuters reports. "Of course we have a certain number of accompanying measures to put in place and we will remain in [the capital] Bamako the time it takes to ensure that, after these discussions, the institutions of state are stabilized.”

Following the beating of Traore by military supporters, Captain Sanogo has not issued statements to reporters in Bamako. But protesters at the scene told Reuters that they would not accept any deal that includes Traore, even if it enjoys the support of the military junta.

"There is no question of Dioncounda staying as president of Mali," says Daouda Diallo, a demonstrator who made it up to the presidential palace.

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