African Union (AU) chairman, Jean Ping, has suspended Mali from the AU following a military coup to overthrow longtime president Amadou Toumani Touré.
According to the Guardian, the coup has been widely condemned in the region, and has also caused the West Africa nation to lose the aid of the African Development Bank and the World Bank.
The Guardian reports:
The coup took place just weeks before an election was due to be held in Mali, for which Touré had announced he would not be standing.
The situation in Bamako is being described as tense but calm, although groups of soldiers were seen driving around and shooting in the air. Witnesses say widespread looting has been taking place, with incidents of soldiers flagging down cars and then stealing them.
Any young man in a uniform has taken the opportunity to drive around, causing chaos and letting fire,” said one western journalist in Bamako.
The military was ordered back to barracks on Friday morning by the leaders of the coup, a group of relatively junior and hitherto unknown soldiers known as the National Committee for the Reinstatement of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDRE).
“Things are calming down,” said Abdoul Karim Ba, a Malian journalist in the city. “But people still don’t really know what is going on.” Ba said that the CNRDRE had called a meeting of civil service and administration officials in the town of Kati, north of Bamako, but that nothing seems to have been resolved.
The coup was led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, a former English teacher, who says he led the rebellion because the military was unhappy with the way President Touré’ handled the Tuareg rebellion.
Back in January Tuareg rebels began offenses in several parts of the country, apparently using weapons they brought back from Libya where they were fighting for ousted leader Muammar Gaddaf. The Tuareg fighters are seeking independence from Mali and have been battling the country’s undermanned military since the beginning of the year.