Conflict & Justice

Mali coup: President Amadou Toumani Toure's whereabouts still unknown


Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure speaks to the press as he arrives in New Delhi, India, on January 11, 2012, for a state visit.



A day after renegade soldiers declared a coup in Mali, the whereabouts of President Amadou Toumani Toure are still unknown.

Coup leader Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo said on state television late Thursday that Toure was in good health, but refused to say his location or who he is with, the Associated Press reported.

Some reports have placed Toure at an unspecified army camp in this West African country.

The BBC said that Mali's foreign minister and a number of other ministers had been arrested by the mutinous soldiers, who are calling themselves the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy.

Soldiers took control of the state broadcaster before storming and looting the presidential palace Thursday, in what was initially described as a mutiny. The soldiers said they seized control out of frustration at their "incompetent" government's handling of a Tuareg rebellion in the country's north. 

Mali has been under democratic rule for the last 20 years, and the coup has been described as setback for democracy in Africa. 

Toure is due to step down after Mali's presidential election scheduled for April 29. 

More from GlobalPost: Mali coup: Soldiers overthrow government, loot presidential palace (VIDEO)

The Associated Press reported today that stores remained shut and streets empty in the capital, Bamako, under a nationwide curfew announced yesterday by soldiers.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton today called for Mali's constitution to be restored "very quickly," Agence France-Presse reported.

"We deeply regret and condemn the coup d'etat in Mali," Ashton told reporters. "We do hope that the constitution will be restored very quickly and that we will see a return to law and order," she said.

The mutiny began Wednesday with government troops protesting the lack of arms in their campaign against Tuareg rebels fighting for an independent homeland.

The rebellion in northern Mali led by the nomadic Tuareg desert tribe is thought to have claimed dozens of lives, although Mali's government has not released an official death toll. Clashes between the rebels and government forces have displaced nearly 200,000 people.

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