Mali coup leader trained with US military
Washington - Mali's coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, attended at least five training courses with the American military since 1998, the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday.
While releasing details of the training, spokesperson Major Monica Matoush told AFP that instruction for foreign soldiers stresses democratic rule and "the actions of the mutineers run contrary to everything that is taught in US military schools".
Sanogo, who leads a group of rebel soldiers calling themselves the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy, has made no secret of his American training and has been seen wearing a US Marine Corps pin.
Sanogo attended one Marine Corps class, the staff non-commissioned officer academy career course in Quantico, Virginia in 2003, officials said.
He also graduated from four other classes with the US Army: a basic non-commissioned officer course at Fort Benning in Georgia in 1998, a language instruction course in 2004, an intelligence basic officer's course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 2007 and an infantry basic officer's course at Fort Benning in 2010, according to Matoush.
Despite the coup in Mali, the Pentagon said that training for visiting soldiers and officers has had a positive effect in Africa by promoting civilian control of the armed forces and respect for human rights.
"To note, the number of military seizures in Africa has decreased greatly from the 80s and 90s," Matoush said in an email. "This is a partial reflection of US and other Western engagement and training efforts."
The coup leaders in Mali are facing condemnation at home and abroad for their ouster of President Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22, launched in anger over the regime's handling of a northern Tuareg rebellion.
The African Union has suspended Mali as a result of the putsch, and the United States, Europe and Canada have frozen aid.