A Coup for a Coup | Amadou Toumani Touré

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 12:49 PM EDT, 22 March 2012

Former President AmadouToure

BAMAKO, Mali - President Amadou Toumani Touré has been deposed following a coup d'etat by soldiers who are members of the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR). In the video below, Lt. Amadou Konare spoke in French to deliver news of the success of their overthrow of the government.

"The CNRDR ... has decided to assume its responsibilities by putting an end to the incompetent regime which has failed to protect our people.”

The military usurpers have dissolved institutions, suspended the constitution and imposed a curfew "until further notice". Captain Amadou Sanogo,who has been appointed as the president of the newly formed CNRDR, appeared on state television to urge calm and condemn any pillaging.

As with most African countries where the government is ousted by a military coup, these types of transitions are pivotal and most often lead to brutal regimes that refuse to relinquish power even after they have achieved their stated goals.

In fact, former President Amadou Touré, 64, also came to power through a coup. In 1991, he overthrew a military ruler, Moussa Traoré, and then handed power to civilian authorities the next year. He won the presidential elections in 2002, with a broad coalition of support, and was easily re-elected in 2007. (Source: Wikipedia)

As the military launched its final assault on the presidential palace in the capital of Bamako, the report of heavy gun fire pierced the early morning air. Although Touré had previously escaped into hiding, his Defense Minister wasn’t as lucky. Both he and the Foreign Minister, Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, are being held by the soldiers.

International condemnation of the coup has been swift. France suspended its cooperation in assisting its former colony with its transition to a more democratic rule, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has stated publicly that they do not condone the actions of these soldiers.

In a statement issued by the White House on Thursday, the US called for the "immediate restoration" of constitutional rule in Mali, while the African Union condemned the actions of the soldiers.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN's secretary-general, called for calm and for grievances to be settled democratically in a statement released hours before the soldiers said they had seized power.

Jean Ping, head of the Commission of the African Union continental grouping, said he was "deeply concerned by the reprehensible acts currently being perpetrated by some elements of the Malian army". (Source: Aljazeera)

Mali, the largest country in West Africa, is heavily Islamic; where approximately 90 percent of its population are adherents of Islam. Of these, the majority of Malians are Sunni, while a small population of Christians resides in the country with relative freedom from persecution. Islam was first introduced to Mali by Muslim Berber and Tuareg merchants traveling south into Sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the grievances of the CNRDR and a stated reason for toppling Touré’s government, was their perceived lack of government response to the returning Tuareg rebel fighters in the north of the country. The military felt that it had not been allocated sufficient weaponry to combat embattled and bitter Tuareg mercenaries who were returning to Mali from Libya.

Many of the Tuareg were ardent supporters of Muammar Gaddhafi, and when the Arab Spring movement swept through Libya, they went to the country to fight for the Gaddhafi regime. Once he was killed, those who were not captured and killed, returned to Mali disgruntled and unwelcomed.

Tuareg-led rebellions have killed numerous civilians and nearly 200,000 have had to flee their homes in advance of the marauding hordes. Mali, a country that has had several military regime changes and coups, has fostered an environment where rebels can easily foment unrest.

The growing instability after the initial steps toward a stable, democratic government has adjacent West African nations worried. If the Tuareg fighters are not contained, the fighting could spill over into neighboring countries like Algeria, as evidenced by the Tuareg's seizure earlier this month of the key garrison in the border town, Tessalit.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dSWdg5kTYHo]