BAMAKO — Businesses reopened and children returned to school Tuesday as Malians heeded a call by the junta to return to work, but the putschists faced further pressure as west African leaders held emergency talks.
The military rulers were trying to restore order as they fought off opprobrium at home and abroad for their ouster of President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 in anger over the regime’s handling of a northern Tuareg rebellion.
Toure’s situation has been unclear since he was forced to flee when mutineering soldiers shot their way to his palace but France said its ambassador had had a reassuring phone conversation with the ousted leader.
Desert nomads fighting for the independence of their Tuareg homeland have exploited the disarray in Bamako to make gains on the battlefield, prompting the junta to call for a ceasefire and negotiations.
“We call on them to cease hostilities and to come to the negotiating table as soon as possible,” junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said late Monday.
“Everything is negotiable except national territorial integrity and the unity of our country,” he added.
The International Crisis Group said Monday that the anger among the army runs deeper than its losses, both human and military, in the north.
“The end of President Toure’s term has been marked by an inconsistent security policy in the north. High army commanders have also been regularly accused of nepotism, corruption, inefficiency and lack of accountability,” the thinktank said in a statement.
FULL ARTICLE (AFP)
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