Deposed Malian president flees to Senegal

Amadou Toumani Toure reported to have arrived in capital, Dakar, with family on trip facilitated by President Macky Sall

    Amadou Toumani Toure had sought refuge in the Senegalese embassay in Bamako after the coup [EPA]
    Amadou Toumani Toure had sought refuge in the Senegalese embassay in Bamako after the coup [EPA]

    Mali's deposed pesident, Amadou Toumani Toure, has left the country for Senegal along with his family, according to state radio.

    The report said Toure, who sought refuge at the Senegalese embassy in Bamako after he was overthrown in March by junior army officers, arrived in the capital Dakar on Thursday.

    "It was President [Macky] Sall who organised his passage to Dakar," spokesman Abou Abel Thiam said by telephone. But it was not immediately clear whether Toure intended to stay permanently in the West African nation.

    Toure's departure came as the army released all senior political and army officials it arrested earlier this week, the army leaders behind the coup said on Thursday.

    "I can confirm that they have all been freed," an official in the CNRDRE, the group that seized power in the coup, told the Reuters news agency, asking not to be identified.

    The arrests of 22 officials by security forces had drawn broad international condemnation.

    The coup leaders bowed to pressure by the regional bloc ECOWAS to pave the way for a return to civilian rule or risk heavy sanctions.

    Toure, who was toppled with only months left to complete his second and last term in office, has since resigned from the presidency.

    Unhappy soldiers

    The speaker of the national assembly, Dioncounda Traore, is serving as the interim president while Cheick Modibo Diarra, Microsoft Corp's chairman for Africa, has been appointed Mali's prime minister.

    The soldiers behind the coup said the takeover was triggered by government's failure to rein in Tuareg rebels in the north of the country.

    The rebels, a mix of separatist and Islamist fighters, have since seized Mali's three northern regions as government forces fighting on several fronts collapsed in the chaos that followed the coup.

    Politicians have continued to criticise the military for not wanting to cede power and international organisations, including the UN and the African Union, condemned the wave of arrests.
           
    All those held and freed this week were seen as close to Toure, who was due to step down before an April 29 election.
           
    The coup shattered Mali's reputation for stability in an otherwise unstable region and the retreat of government forces in the north heightened fears that groups linked to al-Qaeda could take advantage of a security void.
       
    Toure had come under criticism abroad and at home for failing to tackle the growing insecurity in its largely desert north, an area larger than France.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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