Mali coup leader rejects West African troop deployment | News | DW | 29.04.2012
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Mali coup leader rejects West African troop deployment

The captain who led last month's coup in Mali has said he will not accept the deployment of regional West African troops from the ECOWAS group. He has also rejected a proposed 12-month transition period for Mali.

Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo said late on Saturday that he did not accept the decisions reached by West African states at an emergency summit dealing with the situation in Mali and nearby Guinea-Bissau.

The leader of Mali's March 22 coup said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), whose leaders convened in the Ivory Coast capital Abidjan on Thursday, had reached decisions that were not binding for Mali.

"All the decisions announced in Abidjan were reached without consulting us," Sanogo told reporters in the Malian capital Bamako. "I do not agree with the deployment of soldiers from the Economic Community of West African States. No foreign soldier will step on Malian soil without being invited by the Malian government."

Sanogo was speaking after a meeting with ECOWAS leaders in Bamako. The peacekeeping force was designed to help stabilize the country, rocked by a coup and a northern rebellion led by two separate factions, in the short term.

Regional leaders had also decided in Abidjan on Thursday that the tenure of interim president, Dioncounda Traore, should be extended from 40 days to 12 months. This would mark an extension of an earlier deal brokered between ECOWAS and the junta.

Divided and disjointed

"ECOWAS took its decisions unilaterally, which means they do not bind us. The interim president will serve 40 days, after that I'll assume responsibility," Sanogo said, adding that his CNRDRE group would only honor their initial ECOWAS deal.

Sanogo led the group of soldiers who on March 22 toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure, saying that he had failed to deal with a major uprising to the north. At one point, Sanogo explicitly requested that foreign troops be deployed in Mali, albeit to help suppress the northern insurgencies.

In the days following the coup, however, a mixture of Tuareg rebels seeking independence for a major region of northern Mali they refer to as "Azawad" and an Islamic group Ansar Dine seeking religious rule in Mali seized control of more than half the country. The Tuaregs' National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) has since unilaterally declared independence for the north, which has not been recognized by other actors.

Sanogo later relinquished power to interim president Traore, who was sworn in on April 12 – though there is still a considerable lack of clarity over who controls which parts of Mali.

ECOWAS asked Mali's military to return to its barracks at Thursday's summit, with former colonial rulers France on Friday asking the junta to relinquish control of state-run ORTM radio and television as promised.

msh/nrt (AFP, AP, Reuters)