Coup Leaders In Mali Struggle To Assert Their Control

Soldiers maintained a presence outside the presidential palace in Bamako, Mali, on Friday after a military coup d'état

Residents of Bamako, the capital of Mali, waited in tension and uncertainty on Saturday for the outcome of a military coup d’état that overthrew the country’s elected government last week, ending more than 20 years of democracy in the nation.
Regional analysts and residents said little appeared to be resolved as junta leaders struggled to maintain control amid increasing international isolation and persistent rumors of an imminent countercoup. State television, seized early on by the coup leaders, went off the air for an hour on Friday night as soldiers set up barricades around the downtown building housing it.
Later, Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, the coup leader who had received military training in the United States, appeared briefly to assure viewers of his “good health,” followed by repeated declarations of support for the junta from young people and other backers, many using the same language. Speaking of the countercoup rumors, a military spokesman, Col. Idrissa Traore, said Saturday that there was “nothing serious in all that.”
Yet the announcement that the junta remained in control was hardly seen as definitive by observers. “The situation is very fluid,” said Dr. Abdel Fatau Musah, a senior official with the regional grouping of West African states, Ecowas, who left Bamako on Saturday morning. “Nobody knows what is going to happen.”
Ecowas, which has condemned the coup, scheduled an emergency meeting of regional leaders for Tuesday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The whereabouts of Mali’s elected president, Amadou Toumani Touré, remained unknown.
“There is a lot of insecurity,” Dr. Musah said. “It’s going to be very difficult to see how this junta is going to survive. “The country has run out of resources.” Mali’s air and land borders have been sealed since late Wednesday; food, fuel and cash are all running low; banks are closed, as are many stores.”
Dr. Musah added: “The junta is made up of very young officers, very inexperienced. Ecowas wants them to quickly surrender.”
Opposition politicians in Mali continued to criticize the coup. “With just weeks before an election in which the Malian people were getting ready to freely and democratically decide their future, nobody has the right to substitute themselves by force to popular will,” Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a former prime minister, said in a statement.
Mali, heavily dependent on aid, risks a near-total cutoff of foreign assistance. “Any U.S. assistance to the government of Mali beyond what we give for humanitarian purposes is at risk,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, said Friday. That point was relayed directly to Captain Sanogo by an official at the American Embassy in Bamako, the State Department said.

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