Mali's president has been flown to France for medical tests after being beaten up by demonstrators. His absence could compromise Mali's democratic transition from military rule.
Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, is en route to France for medical treatment after being attacked by protesters, an advisor to the injured statesman said on Wednesday. His departure leaves a dangerous power vacuum in the troubled West African state.
"He has gone to France for a full medical check. He said he was feeling some pains on his back," a senior official within the president's ADEMA political party said.
According to the advisor, 70-year-old Traore will undergo a heart examination, including checks on his pacemaker. Traore has suffered a heart attack in the past.
The Malian leader was set upon and beaten unconscious on Monday by protesters demonstrating against the extension of his mandate.
The elderly ruler was appointed head of an interim government after a military coup took place in Mali in March, ousting the former President Amadou Toumani Toure. A tug-of-war for leadership between those in favor of the ruling military junta and supporters of Traore has refused to subside.
Traore's absence has created a risky power vacuum and could scupper progress towards a peaceful transition to civilian rule. Mediators have been brokering lengthy negotiations to get the military junta to agree to step down and the coup leader finally agreed to give up power this weekend, making way for Traore to steer the country towards democratic elections.
sej/tj (AP, AFP, Reuters)