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Mali's Lawmakers Tell Military to Leave
2012/03/25 (Last modification: 2012/03/25 à 19:20)
Malian lawmakers and opposition personalities demanded the departure of a military junta that is struggling to assert its authority after ousting West African nation's president.Several hundred people gathered in the capital Bamako as 38 political parties announced the formation of a united front against the four-day-old coup. "Our aim is clear, to get the junta to leave. This coup d'etat is unconstitutional and we will not accept it," said Soumaila Cisse, one of the main presidential candidates in polls that had been planned for April 29. "Get out Captain (Amadou) Sanogo," opposition supporters shouted, referring to the coup's leader. The National Assembly issued a statement demanding an immediate return to constitutional order, the opening of all borders, the release of all arrested government officials and for elections go ahead as planned. Only one small opposition party has declared support for the coup. The local protests came as Paris said it had pressed Captain Sanogo to give up the putsch and hold April polls as scheduled, cooperation minister Henri de Raincourt said Sunday. Captain Sanogo had "not yet responded" to the demands, the minister said in televised remarks. Some 1000 kilometres to the north, soldiers said they had fought off a Tuareg rebel attack in Kidal, one of the region's key cities. "Today we repelled an attack by Islamist rebels," a military official in Kidal said on condition of anonymity, referring to one of two rebel movements fighting for independence of the traditional homeland of the desert nomads. The Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine said its fighters were on the verge of taking Kidal, hoping to capitalise on the confusion in the south where they coup played out. Ansar Dine, which means Defenders of Faith in Arabic, is one of two rebel movements involved in the separatist battle. While they seek the imposition of Islamic law, the other group, the Azawad National Liberation Movement, has distanced itself from religious objectives. The desert tribes in January launched their first rebellion since 2009 in a decades-old demand for independence, boosted by the return of heavily-armed battle-hardened fighters from Libya who served late dictator Moamer Kadhafi. Their forces overwhelmed the weak Malian army, and scores of soldiers are said to have been killed and captured, causing anger among troops over the way the conflict is being handled by the government. Angry soldiers revolted in Bamako on Wednesday, leading to a full-blown coup early Thursday as they seized government buildings and forced the president to flee. Junta leader CAptain Sanogo has invited the rebels to hold talks and begin a "peace process" as he tries to restore order.