A massive blow for democracy in West Africa

2012 is looking grim for the continent so far, with serious threats against democracy and peace in Senegal, Nigeria and now Mali. This is truly a success story turning sour in the West African country. But with the explosive Lybian situation and the Tuareg rebellion in the North, all the ingredients were ready for a new cycle of instability. What is even more infuriating is the fact that Amadou Toumani Toure was due to step down after next month’s elections.

Mali’s reputation as a beacon of democracy and stability in west Africa was extinguished late on Wednesday night, when a group of young army officers stormed the presidential palace in the capital Bamako and announced that they were suspending the constitution and taking power. On Thursday morning, the leader of the putsch, Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, went on state TV to declare a curfew and call a halt to widespread looting, in a voice so hoarse as to be almost inaudible.

This military coup was born out of the deep anger at the way in which the ousted president, Amadou Toumani Touré, had been conducting the war against a Tuareg-led insurgency in the north of the country. Stories of soldiers being sent to the front without the necessary weaponry and almost starving to death out in the vastness of the Sahara, a place as alien and distant to them as Siberia is to a Muscovite, had turned public opinion against him. Source

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