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Mali: A second coup in the backdrop of a secession war

By Konye Obaji Ori
Posted on Wednesday, 2 May 2012 09:37

Malian military said it had defeated a counter-coup by forces known as the Red Beret in an all-night stand-off that left 14 dead.

Junta leader Capt. Amadou Sanago, over a month led a group of soldiers to topple Mali’s democratically elected president, Amadou Toumani Toure. But on Monday, the special presidential guard’s Red Beret soldiers attempted to overthrow him in a similar fashion.

The Red Berets who guarded the ousted president arrived at the national TV and radio station at around 6:30 p.m. on Monday. Yaya Konate, the head of the broadcast station said that soldiers fired in the air and told all personnel working there to leave.

According to Konate, several people were killed in the gunfight that ensued between Mali coup troops and the Red Berets. “We have had 14 dead and 40 wounded,” Abdoulaye Nene Coulibaly, the director of the Gabriel Toure Hospital told AFP.

Also read: Sanogo No Go!

But on Tuesday, the military boasted it had defeated the Red Berets and averted a coup. The military had alleged that the Red Berets are supported by mercenaries from the West African regional bloc.

“Foreign elements backed by dark forces from inside the country carried out these attacks”, adding that some of them were arrested,” a soldier reading out a message on national television on behalf of Sanogo said.

The junta spokesman claimed that the Red Berets were trying to offset the military in order to allow Ecowas forces into the country.

Eyewitness reports claimed that members of the junta entered the Gabriel Toure Hospital and took several of the wounded Red Beret soldiers, with them.

“Now you’re going to tell us who were the ones who forced you to provoke us! You’ve been taught a lesson but it’s not over yet,” an angry officer reportedly shouted at the wounded soldiers.

The counter-coup and allegation by the junta forces follows an Ecowas summit last Thursday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where West African heads of state called for the soldiers to get out of politics completely and return to their barracks.

Also read: Mali’s junta caught between a rock and a hard place

At the meeting in Abidjan, the decisions made included a plan to send Ecowas troops to Mali to protect the presidents and prime minister’s office. But the military junta has called for Ecowas leaders to respect an earlier agreement.

The military junta signed a deal with Ecowas to supervise the return of the country to constitutional rule.

But as Ecowas and the military junta worry over constitutional order and agreements to restore civilian rule in Mali, the northern part of the country is dealing with Tuareg separatist rebels who have declared independence, and the imposition of Sharia law.

The Tuareg militants seeking secession of northern Mali from Mali have been accused of war crimes by human rights groups.

A meeting that had been planned for Tuesday between an ECOWAS mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, and a delegation of the former junta has now been cancelled, reports claim.

Also read: Tuareg military campaign failure gives impetus to Mali coup

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