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Friday, March 23, 2012
Mali Coup: Rebels Promise President 'Safe,' New Threat Emerges

Mali Coup: Rebels Promise President 'Safe,' New Threat Emerges

Mali is in turmoil after the national Malian army led a coup against President Amadou Toumani Toure, and now a new group of rebels is threatening to divide the country in two.

Reports from Mali state that the national army has turned its back on political leaders and has seized control of the presidential palace, airports, and television stations. The group, known as the National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR), took to the airwaves on Wednesday night.

"The CNRDR ... has decided to assume its responsibilities and end the incompetent and disavowed regime of Amadou Toumani Toure. The objective of the CNRDR does not in any way aim to confiscate power, and we solemnly swear to return power to a democratically elected president as soon as national unity and territorial integrity are established," said leader Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo.

The CNRDR has assured Malians that former president Toure is "very well" and "safe," as are all the other leaders being held.

"I assure you that no one will physically hurt any of them, but as long as I remain at the head of this movement … they will need to go before a competent court," Sanogo explained.

The Malian army has been upset with President Toure for several months, stemming from the handling of an insurgence in the north.

Ethnic Tuaregs are located in the northern part of Mali and have been attempting to assert their independence since the 1960s. They fought alongside Libya's deposed leader Moammar Qaddafi, and after his death, returned to Mali with more advanced weapons.

Fighting between the Malian army and Tuaregs worsened after their return; more and more soldiers were killed as a result of the advanced weaponry. Since then, the Malian army has complained about their insufficient tools and a feeling of disrespect.

Now, though, the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawed, made up of ethnic Tuaregs, is seizing on the turmoil and attempting to claim ground throughout the country for itself. They have already staked claim in the northern city of Aenfis, which is located between Gao and Kidal.

World leaders have unanimously condemned the actions of the CNRDR. France has cut off all cooperation with the leaders of Mali as long as the rebels are in power, and the United States is debating whether to cease supplying the country with $137 million in aid.

The White House has issued a statement condemning the CNRDR.

"We call for the immediate restoration of constitutional rule in Mali, including full civilian authority over the armed forces and respect for the country's democratic institutions and traditions."

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