Security Clearance: Disaster looms for people of Mali Traore "is not staying as president of Mali," said Youssouf Kone,the leader of several groups demanding the interim president'sresignation. "We will stay until Traore agrees to step down," he added. "We'regoing to make this the Tahrir Square," referencing the 2011protests in Egypt. Just before 11 a.m. (7 a.m. |
ET), a group of protesters parted andmoved up the hill in direction of the presidential palace. "We don't want Dioncounda" and "Down with ECOWAS," chanted a couplein the crowd, which remained peaceful at that point. When it reached the palace gates, the spontaneous march hadgathered a couple of hundred supporters, some of them shoutingslogans in support of the coup leader, Sanogo. According towitnesses, soldiers stood by as the crowd entered the buildingwhile others climbed over armored vehicles parked nearby.
Someprotesters were seen parking motorbikes and bicycles inside thepalace. In other parts of town, protesters burned tires and put up posterssaying the country will never heal with Traore in power. The groupclosed of one of the city's bridges, causing the traffic to standstill all over Bamako. The protests reflect longstanding frustrations with Mali'spolitical class.
Several of the protesters expressed discontentwith Traore, a former labor activist who was the country'sparliament speaker before his appointment as interim president inApril. "Traore is part the same self-serving political elite that hasmisruled the country for years," Fadima Sy, one of the protestersin Place de l'Independence, said. Interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra went on statetelevision Monday evening to denounce the attack and appealed tolocal politicians and organizations to stop encouraging the youthto march. Mali had been hailed as a shining example of African democracybefore the coup, having experienced more than 20 years ofdemocratic government. Sanogo and his fellow officers ousted Toureon March 22, complaining that he had failed to properly equipsoldiers battling a growing insurgency by Tuareg rebels in thecountry's north.
While ECOWAS and other countries pressured Sanogo to relinquishpower, Tuareg fighters and Islamic rebels swiftly advanced and nowclaim control of much of northern Mali.
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