16 hurt in Mali as opposition demonstrators clash with police

2018-06-03 07:59
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At least 16 people were injured when opposition demonstrators clashed with police on Saturday, at a banned political rally in Bamako just two months ahead of Mali's presidential election, protest organisers said.

Police attempted to break up a rally of several hundred people outside the headquarters of the Democratic Alliance for Peace - the party of the current president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita - firing tear gas and beating demonstrators with batons, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.

The Bamako authorities had banned the "peaceful march", organised by the opposition Coalition for Alternation and Change, in view of a state of emergency still in place.

The organisers published a list of 16 people injured, including a policeman and a journalist.

A doctor at the nearby Gabriel Toure hospital had earlier told AFP that at least 12 people were injured, including a politician.

The ministry of security justified the authorities' response citing a need to "prevent associations liable to trouble public order."

The ministry added that some at the demonstration had "insulted" the police who had remained "professional and courteous" even though one had suffered a head wound.

"I was slightly injured when I took part in a march calling for credible elections," former finance and economy minister Mamadou Igor Diarra tweeted.

"Thank God I was able to help some of the injured, women and young people, which explains the blood on my clothing in some of the pictures that are being circulated," he wrote.

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Diarra was finance and economy minister between 2015 and 2016. He is one of around 15 candidates in the presidential election on July 29.

"Why do you want us to keep quiet? We're demonstrating to call for transparent elections and equal access" to the state broadcaster ORTM, said Oumar Sangare, head of an association which "supports change in Mali."

"You see, our march was peaceful. And it was an anti-democratic power that gassed us. The dictatorship will not pass," said Ousmane Kone, a mason who took part in another demo in the city centre, similarly broken up by police.

Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 73, announced his candidacy for a second term on May 28.

Read more on:    mali  |  west africa

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