EVERY morning a bus caked in dust pulls into Bamako bringing the latest rumours of war. Looking dazed and dehydrated after 24 hours on the road, Mohammad Maiga explains how Tuareg separatists and Islamist militants have turned his native Gao, northern Mali’s most populous town, into a ghost town. “Everyone is leaving,” says Mr Maiga. “There’s no food, no supplies.” Blackouts last all day. Banks and offices have been pillaged by rampant rebels. Read the rest of this entry »
Rebels in Mali completed their capture of the biggest population centres in the north of the country yesterday by taking the historic trading town of Timbuktu.
Its capitulation, eight days after a coup by junior officers in the capital, Bamako, which overthrew the democratically elected Government, marks the latest gain in a three-day advance by the Tuareg rebels. The junta said that it was seeking to negotiate a peace deal with the rebels and sent representatives to discuss a ceasefire.
The Tuareg forces, thought to be about 1,000, have exploited the uncertainty caused by the overthrow of the Government of President Amadou Toumani Touré, which has left the army with no clear chain of command. Read the rest of this entry »
The allegedly al-Qaeda-linked faction of the Tuareg rebellion in troubled Mali seems more of an opportunistic break than a real extension of the terror group
Somewhere close to the Algerian border a delegation of Tuareg notables hurried through the desert for a summit. It was mid-March and there was dissension among them. One of their own, a renegade desert warrior called Iyad ag Ghali, had just thrown the Tuaregs’ meticulously plotted rebellion against the Malian government into jeopardy. In proclamations appearing on YouTube, ag Ghali’s spokesman had done everything that the committee behind the two-month-old uprising by Tuareg rebels wanted to avoid. “It is our obligation to fight for the application of Shar’ia in Mali,” the spokesman said. The poisonous phrase, seized eagerly by a Malian government smarting from military defeat, undid months of careful political messaging. Now everyone would think the Tuareg were in bed with al-Qaeda. Read the rest of this entry »
A contingent of regional leaders turns its plane away as the Mali Junta appears to solidify, learning how to spin and propagandize. But trouble looms
They pumped their fists in the air. “Shame on Africa,” they cried. And then the protesters swarmed across the runway at Bamako international, trampling over the red carpet laid out for visiting dignitaries. With a jet carrying presidents from five West Africa countries inbound, it was an eloquent statement of what many in Mali’s military junta think about international condemnation of their coup — even if the soldiers in charge didn’t explicitly order up the demonstration. Read the rest of this entry »
Mali’s coup leaders tighten their hold but inspire little confidence
IF ANYONE knows what is happening in Mali, it should be Captain Amadou Sanogo. Sliding forward on the shiny beige sofa into which he has sunk, he insists that things are moving “as I want. Moving as I prepared…allowing me to engage, to start with my processes.” Yet the 40-year-old officer with a sandpaper rasp seems to be putting a brave face on what looks, in fact, like an accidental coup that was almost invited by the government it toppled. Read the rest of this entry »
Captain Amadou Sanogo does not sound or look like the man in charge. But he is now the only show in town in a country beset by multiple crises
Under a sickle moon a large man with dreadlocks, a sparkling purple cloak and white moccasins climbed the stairs of the house that has become Mali’s new nerve-center. He was a marabout — a West Africa holy man — summoned by the 40-year-old army captain everyone in Kati is now calling le President. The new power in Mali is Amadou Sanogo, a career soldier whose improbable coup d’etat has upturned one of Africa’s strongest democracies. On Monday night he sought strength from the spirit world. He needs whatever help he can get. Read the rest of this entry »
The leader of the military junta that seized power in Mali last week has told The Times that his priority is restoring the nation’s army, reeling after a series of humiliating defeats at the hands of Tuareg rebels, and turn it into a force for stability across West Africa’s Sahel region.
In an interview at his headquarters in the cantonment town of Kati, Captain Amadou Sanogo said that if he can “get a better life for my soldiers, I get a well-prepared army, I get a proficient army ready to serve my country, to serve the Sahel region”, he would consider his leadership a sucess.
However, as he was speaking about 1,000 protesters took to the streets of Bamako, the capital, chanting “Down with Sanogo” and demanding the restoration of democracy. Mali had been due to hold elections next month. Read the rest of this entry »
Several interested parties await the outcome as a once-healthy democracy descends into conflict between military mutineers and their president
Pick-ups packed with soldiers zoomed toward the maize-colored building that houses the State broadcaster as rumors flew of more civil strife in Mali. There was a counter-coup. No, there wasn’t a counter-coup. The leader of the mutiny was dead. No, Capt. Amadou Sanogo would appear in a broadcast momentarily. Read the rest of this entry »
A coup in Mali
AS THOUSANDS of inhabitants of Mali’s normally sleepy capital, Bamako, flooded south over the Bridge of Martyrs to the comparative safety of the River Niger’s right bank on Wednesday afternoon, a man in a flowing robe and skull cap cut a stubborn figure as he walked the other way. “This is how civil wars start,” he said after a Kalashnikov round whipped overhead. Read the rest of this entry »
Within 24 hours Mali’s stable democracy has reached the brink of civil war, reports Julius Cavendish in Bamako
Mali was on the brink of civil war last night after mutinous soldiers led by a cadre of young officers seized the capital, Bamako, but failed to corner President Touré, who regrouped outside the city with a crack unit of paratroopers.
The renegade soldiers, angered by the Government’s failure to arm them to fight Tuareg rebels, stormed the presidential palace overnight, arresting senior members of the Cabinet.
Some troops fuelled by alcohol then went on a rampage, looting the palace, which bestrides limestone cliffs overlooking the centre of Bamako, and carting off flat-screen televisions, computer monitors and photocopiers. Read the rest of this entry »