The leader of the military coup in Mali said Friday that the president and other top government officials have been arrested and will soon be handed to the courts for trial, but refused to reveal their whereabouts.
“These people are safe and sound. We will not touch a hair on their heads. I will hand them over to the courts so that the Malian people know the truth,” Captain Amadou Sanogo said.
Sanogo and the rebel troops he leads toppled the democratically elected government in Mali this week after tensions arose over how to fight the Tuareg insurgents in the north of the country. Mali’s army had grown upset with President Amadou Toumani Toure for not arming them sufficiently enough to quell the Tuareg fighters who had recently returned from fighting for Gadhafi’s side in Libya.
Mali appears to be very unstable from this week’s events. Looting has spread throughout the country and Tuareg fighters continue to battle Mali soldiers and try take advantage of the power vacuum left by the collapse of the government. Those in the army not close to the coup group have been deserting, leading to further instability.
A UN report released in February assessing “the Libyan crisis” claimed that the impact of the NATO-backed rebel victory over Gadhafi “reverberated across the world” as “such neighboring countries as…Mali,” among many others, “bore the brunt of the challenges that emerged as a result of the crisis.”
“The Governments of these countries, especially those in the Sahel region, had to contend with the influx of hundreds of thousands of traumatized and impoverished returnees as well as the inflow of unspecified and unquantifiable numbers of arms and ammunition from the Libyan arsenal,” the report said. The precise extent to which the current chaos in Mali was caused by the NATO intervention in Libya has not been covered much yet.