Protestors storm National Palace of Mali, viciously beat president
By Fungai Maboreke
Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network
Just hours after a West African peace committee flew out of the country feeling success at their venture, hundreds of Malian supporters of the recent military coup invaded the national palace and beat the interim President Dioncounda Traore within an inch of his life.
Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra expressed deep dismay at the attack. “I am ashamed to relate what happened this morning … I’m asking the young people who protested today not to protest again. I have understood their complaints and I’ll make sure that the right people hear about them.”
It is not clear how the protestors slipped past the soldiers guarding the presidential residence.
The mediators from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had been brokering a deal with coup leaders to accept a Traore-led 12-month transition back to democratic rule.
Traore was selected to replace Mali’s former Prime Minister, Amadou Toure, who was ousted March 22 by a junta led by Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, who blamed Toure for failing to quell an uprising of Tuareg people in the northern part of the country. Sanogo was U.S.-trained, having received a professional military education including basic officer training while in the U.S.
In exchange for letting the interim president serve a full year, Sanogo won a score of generous perks from the ECOWAS group. These included status and privileges normally accorded former heads of state, including a pension for life, a mansion, transport and an allowance.
Observers said the thousands-strong street protest in Bamako, which preceded the palace invasion, had the markings of youth leader Oumar Mariko, who hailed the coup as ushering in an Arab Spring-style revolution.
A 3,000-strong standby force from the western Africa region is ready for deployment if Mali requests it.