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Mali’s president has been ousted in a coup just one month before his term was due to finish, the Associated Press reports.
Rebel soldiers were seen looting the presidential palace Thursday of televisions and other goods. Gunfire could be heard thoughout the capital. The constitution has been suspended and the president’s whereabouts are unknown.
The group that carried out the coup, the military’s National Committee for the Reestablishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR), appeared on national television dressed in fatigues to address the country. Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, a leader of the CNRDR, announced a nationwide curfew and urged people to remain calm:
On Twitter, Malians and foreigners living in the country started writing about the instability.
The president’s official Twitter feed initially denied a coup, calling it a “mutiny” instead. Later, it tweeted that the defense minister was safe but gave no mention of the president’s whereabouts.
Blogger Phil Paoletta tweeted updates from Mali’s capital:
It is noon in #Bamako and I am still hearing sporadic gunfire coming from south of Badalabougou towards Faladie— phil paoletta (@philinthe_) March 22, 2012
There are no police at any of their posts in Badalabougou or Torokorobougou. Hearing it is like this all over #Bamako.— phil paoletta (@philinthe_) March 22, 2012
Reuters reporter David Lewis also shared updates:
Jeune Africa, a blog that covers politics and culture in Africa, began live blogging the coup in French. A recent update from Jeune Africa commentator “Madiba” reads:
Alas, the worst is yet to come. Members who come to take power want to remain credible. [They will] prepare a large-scale response against the rebellion in the North that is heavily armed Libyan following the conflict.
Madiba is referring to an ongoing ethnic Tuareg rebellion in the country’s north that the government has failed to put down. The rebellion recently grew in size because fighters who had supported the assassinated Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi returned home heavily armed. The CNRDR said in a statement Wednesday that they overthrew the government because it had badly handled the rebellion.
The coup was decried by a number of countries Thursday, including the 16-country West African regional blog ECOWAS. In a statement, ECOWAS said it “strongly condemns the misguided actions of the mutineers,” according to the AP.
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